Estonian Ott Tänak won the opening super stage on Thursday beating Frenchman Sébastien Ogier, by 0.1 seconds calming an early victory at the WRC Safari Rally 2023.
Kalle Rovanperä, defending champion came in third 2.4 seconds behind the leader and is one of two Rally 1 drivers to have won the Safari Rally Ogier won in it 2021.
The lead board of day one also saw Thierry Neuville finish fourth, Elfyn Evans fifth, Esappeka Lappi sixth Takamoto Katsuta seventh, and Pierre –Louis Loubet eighth.
The Safari Rally provided an action–packed event where Takamoto Katsuta’s Toyota was fully repaired by his dedicated mechanical team after rolling during Wednesday’s shakedown stage, and his yet-to-claim podium wins in Kenya.
Reminds of Thierry Neuville who rolled six times during the shakedown of the ADAC Rally of Germany, back in 2014, Despite the crash Neuville went on to claim his first podium win with Hyundai. Only time will tell what surprises await at this year’s Safari Rally.
Loubet made his first appearance at WRC Safari Rally in style as he drove President William Ruto in his incredible Hybrid Rally 1 car, Ford Puma at the Loldia shake-down on Wednesday. Oliver Solberg was the quickest in the Rally2 class by an impressive time of 3.34 driving his Skoda Fabia
The promotion of sports is vital both locally and internationally it would have been a remarkable sight to witness our young and talented Kenyan drivers particularly those under the International Automobile Federation RallyStar Programme drive our president and see that Kenyan flag.
Kenyans are extremely patriotic when it comes to sports. The atmosphere is always electric, with fans cheering. As a lover of sports, it’s a sight to behold and always a true representation of the passion that Kenyans have for our fellow athletes.
This piece has been written by Wairimu Nyathira, Sports Journalist based in Nairobi, and a Safri Rally enthusiast.