Victory at last week’s Safari Rally Kenya has left a lasting impression on Sébastien Ogier, with the Frenchman hinting the result ranks highly among his 58 FIA World Rally Championship event triumphs.
Idyllic landscapes and Africa’s captivating wildlife provided the ultimate backdrop to some of the most spectacular scenes in Safari Rally history as Ogier overcame obstacle after obstacle to head a 1-2-3-4 finish for Toyota Gazoo Racing.
Tyre dramas, a missing tailgate and an overheating engine were just some of the challenges faced by the eight-time world champion, who now drives part-time for the Japanese marque, en route to his second Safari win.
It was, in Ogier’s own words, “one hell of a weekend”, but one which he took extra pleasure from by beating such odds.
“It was a proper Safari Rally,” he confirmed, “and I think the show was great, and that is what people want to see. We had the capacity to push and make some difference when we wanted, but also every day we were hit by a couple of issues.
“I am going to enjoy this one and it will take a bit of time to let it sink in because all of the elements I had to fight during this rally made it very exhausting, but it is also in adversity that you enjoy the wins the most. This one I will for sure count as good one and a well-deserved one, so I am a very happy man today.”
Ogier admitted that his biggest scare came in the rally’s penultimate stage when an unavoidable section of thick fesh-fesh sand pushed the temperatures of all four Toyota cars to alarming heights, subjecting the GR Yaris’ engines to the ultimate test of endurance and reliability.
“With this fesh-fesh section honestly there is not much you can do, you have to go through,” he recounted. “And then we started to have this massive overheating problem with still a long way to go in the stage.