Ogier tames the Safari, Neuville at its lowest

The Frenchman won his 4th victory this year after an unexpected finish in which the Belgian was forced to throw in the towel.

While a quiet end to the rally was promised to him as Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) was far ahead, Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) finally found himself celebrating with champagne on the top step of the podium in Kenya.

Published on 27/06/2021 à 13:49

Gonzalo Forbes

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Ogier tames the Safari, Neuville at its lowest

In Kenya, Sébastien Ogier wins his 4th victory of the season. ©DPPI/F. Flemish

The Frenchman won his 4th victory this year after an unexpected finish in which the Belgian was forced to throw in the towel.

While an end of rally quiet been promised to him so much Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) was far ahead, Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) finally found itself celebrating with champagne on the top step of the podium in Kenya.

Dumped in the first stages as he once again took on the role of opener on very tricky roads, the seven-time world champion was up to 2'29"2 behind Thierry Neuville in this Safari.

The Gapençais then had every reason in the world to finish smoothly and try to get a few bonus points during the Power Stage. He ended up doing better.

Everything changed this Sunday morning when the leader confirmed his retirement after SS14 due to a technical problem. Returning to 2nd, Sébastien Ogier was only 4 seconds behind Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota), the new leader.

The chase then began and quickly turned in his favor. Having returned to 8 tenths in the following special and then tied, the Habs carried out their fatal attack during SS17 by relegating their Japanese teammate to 8”3.

A relatively calm end to the day followed with the 4th fastest time in the Power Stage and above all the 4th victory already this season in just 6 rounds while Takamoto Katsuta took his first podium in the category.

On the Hyundai side, the wound of the last two lost rallies (Portugal and Italy) is still open. In difficulty in the Safari, Ott Tänak consoled himself with a 3rd place but he was never in the mix while Dani Sordo was out of the race since SS3 on Friday.

Concerning Thierry Neuville, things are not getting better. Solid leader since SS2, the Belgian had everything to win this 2021 Kenya Rally. He had a head start, a car that seemed reliable but ultimately bad luck knocked at his door once again.

While in the lead at the start of the last day, Thierry Neuville saw his right rear shock absorber give way on the first special. Although he was able to reach the finish of SS14 as best he could, the 33-year-old driver was not there for the next one. Forced to retire, the representative of the South Korean manufacturer saw a new chance of victory slipping under his nose.

At M-Sport, the internal battle was won by the French Adrien fourmaux. Long behind his teammate Gus Greensmith, the Habs struck a big blow this Sunday by offering himself his first career special (SS16) to take him 4th place overall.


General classification of Rally Kenya

In the championship, Sébastien Ogier overtakes his teammate Elfyn Evans. With 133 points in six rallies, the reigning world champion is already 34 lengths ahead of the Welshman and 56 ahead of Thierry Neuville.

Same case applies to manufacturers where Toyota, with 273 points accumulated, distance Hyundai of 59 units.

Find the analysis of the Kenya Rally by our expert in AUTOhebdo No. 2318 available this Monday in digital version and Wednesday on newsstands.

Gonzalo Forbes

In charge of promotion formulas (F2, F3, FRECA, F4...). Carried by the grace of Franco Colapinto.

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