•Safari, regarded as the world’s toughest rally, hasn’t featured on the WRC calendar since 2002 when Colin McRae and Nicky Grist secured a near three-minute victory
•The gruelling motor rally event has been featuring as a round of the FIA African Rally Championship
Six-time World Rally champion Sébastien Ogier is a disappointed man.
The Hyundai WRC superstar was meant to make his debut in the WRC Safari Rally Kenya in July but his opportunity to savour “the great African flair” came a cropper when the iconic event was postponed to 2021.
Ogier told www.dirtfish.com that he is disappointed for not being able to compete on the Safari Rally this year, an event “completely new for our generation of drivers.”
Safari, which is regarded as the world’s toughest rally, hasn’t featured on the WRC calendar since 2002 when Colin McRae and Nicky Grist secured a near three-minute victory over Harri Rovanperä and Risto Pietiläinen.
The gruelling motor rally event has been featuring as a round of the FIA African Rally Championship. This year was to mark Safari’s first appearance on the WRC schedule after an 18-year hiatus.
Multiple former world champion Sébastien Loeb is incidentally the only driver in the current crop of WRC speedsters to grace the Safari 18 years ago, although it’s unclear if he would have been selected for Hyundai’s third i20 Coupe WRC. The Safari was, however, the latest WRC round to be lost to the coronavirus last week after rallies of Argentina, Italy and Portugal.
\Ogier, who moved from Citroen World Rally Team to Hyundai, said: “I think we are all excited about the idea of going on something completely different and completely new for our generation of drivers.
“Our generation is not conversant with Safari and I don’t know much about it. However, I know it is something completely different from what we’ve done in recent years. I think Turkey was already a little bit extreme in terms of conditions compared to what we were used to, but I think Kenya will be one step ahead in this direction,” he noted.