What you need to know:
- The Frenchman, who won the 2021 WRC Safari in 2021, and finished third last year, driving in both races for Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, has expressed his undying love for Africa.
Eight times World Rally Champion Sebastien Ogier says he is looking forward to his return to Kenya for sunshine and an enjoyable WRC Safari Rally.
The Frenchman, who won the 2021 WRC Safari in 2021, and finished third last year, driving in both races for Toyota Gazoo Racing Team, has expressed his undying love for Africa.
“It’s Africa. I love it,” he said in his blog, his first public conversation after a disappointing outing in WRC Sardinia Italy last weekend where he crashed out while leading in a Toyota Yaris GR Hybrid.
“Now, we look forward to Africa and I think we’re out of the rainy season in Kenya -- at least, I hope so! I love the Safari Rally. Winning this event is one of the highlights of my career, really one of the special ones,” said Ogier.
“The place is quite magical. When I hear about some of the places the World Rally Championship is thinking to go to, places which are questionable for many reasons, it really makes me happy to think about being back in Naivasha again,” said Ogier who is running on a limited programme in the WRC since announcing that he was reducing his rallying programme at the highest level after the 2021 season.
“The people, the country and the roads – everything is just amazing. When you look at the people, it’s humbling to see how warm they are and for the welcome they give to us. You know, really, some of these people live very quiet lives with not so much, but they want to give you everything. They never stop smiling.”
He also loves the human side of Kenyans he confessed.
“Anything I can to help them, I will always do,” added the Frenchman who shares the platform with compatriots Sebastien Loeb as the most successful WRC drivers of all-time.
Toyota is fielding four cars in Kenyato be driven by Ogier, defending champion Kalle Rovanpera, Elfyn Evans and Katsuta Takamoto, looking for a hat trick of wins this year.
Are the challenges of Safari unique? “To drive flat out in these fantastic cars and to come around the corner and see in the distance -- hopefully in the far distance -- giraffes and some of the other wildlife… it’s not like anywhere else on Earth,” he remarked on the unforgiving and unexpected natures of the Safari.
Ogier added that the roads can’t be taken for granted.
“We can’t forget that the roads also can be super tough,” said the Frenchman who retired in Sardinia after an incredible start.
He will certainly be looking for redemption at the Safari Rally.