Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Sebastien Ogier leads the way following the opening day of Safari Rally Kenya as the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Africa this weekend for the first time in 19 years. Ogier, who holds a slim 0.3s lead in the event of teammate Kalle Rovanpera commented saying:

“It’s been a good day with a wonderful atmosphere and a lot of people coming out to cheer for us. We won the first stage so it was a good one for us. It was difficult too because there was a lot of dust. It’s a clean start but for sure the real stuff starts tomorrow. Shakedown yesterday was good for us and quite representative I think with some rough sections as well. The car feels good but there are a lot of question marks over what conditions we will face and how rough it’s going to be. We will have to use the head as much as we can.”

Finland’s Kalle Rovenpera commented on his day saying:

“This was quite a nice super special stage, quite enjoyable to drive and not too tricky. In shakedown yesterday we had some work to do with the balance of the car but with the remote service we could try some things between the runs and the feeling got better. It’s going to be a really tough weekend. It’s a bit of an endurance event where you have to take care of the car, but it’s also quite a short event so you have to push a lot. We’ll know a bit more in the morning when we see how it goes on the first big stages.”

Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin ended the day just 0.7s off the lead held by Ogier and speaking about his first run in Kenya the Welshman commented saying:

“It’s nice to be here in Kenya with an all-new challenge. The super special was quite nice actually, one of the more enjoyable ones to drive, quite wide and open. Maybe my run wasn’t perfect but all in all it was OK. Of course, the rest of the rally will be very different and it will be very difficult to judge where you can go quickly and where you need to look after the car. In shakedown we could change some things inbetween the runs and we seemed to find some small improvements. We know it’s going to be a difficult weekend but we’ll try our best to get the balance right.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal) commented saying;

“The super special in Nairobi was a nice way to start the rally: It was quite fast and as drivers we can enjoy that kind of stage. It’s a good start for us but it’s tomorrow when we will really start to know where we are. Having seen the stages myself during the recce, I can say that the principle will be just like the Safari Rally of old but with shorter stages and on closed roads. You still have sections that you have to take with respect like before: Loose rocks, bedrock, holes, dips. We’ve tried to add as much protection to the car as we can, with a bigger sump guard than ever before and the mesh on the front grille. But still, in some places it will be more down to the driver and how they will approach these very rough sections.”

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