M-Sport Ford team seeking to defy Safari challenge to secure victory on Kenyan soil

M-Sport Ford World Rally team is banking on its Safari Rally Kenya experience to build on a strong Rally Italia Sardegna outing earlier this month.

The British-based squad is the only one of the current FIA World Rally Championship teams which can call on significant African rallying expertise.

M-Sport guided the factory Fords on the Safari from 1997 until 2002, after which the rally disappeared from the calendar until its return 12 months ago. The event delivered two wins for Malcolm Wilson’s team in that time – with Colin McRae topping the podium in 1999 and 2002.

One of the men McRae beat in 2002 was Sébastien Loeb. The Frenchman makes his third start with M-Sport Ford this week and Millener is confident he can deliver.

“Sébastien Loeb and Safari Rally Kenya is a combination nobody thought was possible a few years ago,” added Millener, “never mind to be doing the rally in a Ford – which I think everybody is enthusiastic about

Frenchmen Sebastian Ogier and Sebastian Loeb chat after completing the Shakedown in Loldia on Wednesday/Pic courtesy

The 48-year-old will be making his first Kenya start since 2002 when he steered a Citroën Xsara to fifth place, two years before starting his WRC dominance.

“Obviously Séb is a guy with great experience from the Safari before, but also with off-road competition.”

Loeb finished Thursday morning’s shakedown in third in his Ford Puma Rally1, 1.8sec adrift of the fastest time of championship leader Kalle Rovanperä and 1.3sec behind Thierry Neuville.

He is joined in a five-car line-up by Breen, Adrien Fourmaux, Gus Greensmith, who scored a career-best fourth place in Kenya last year, and Jourdan Serderidis.

  

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