The eight-time world champion conquered the enduring Kenya rally in 2021 when it rejoined the WRC calendar following a 19-year hiatus, and the Frenchman has elected to return 12 months on within the hope of defending his crown.
Recent from ending ninth within the LMP2 class on his Le Mans 24 Hours debut two weeks in the past, Ogier will pilot Toyota’s third GR Yaris in what will probably be his third begin of a partial WRC marketing campaign this 12 months.
Final 12 months’s revamped Safari Rally proved a gruelling occasion with Ogier preventing again from dropping two minutes to win the occasion from Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta.
Organisers have elevated the problem for the drivers and their new Rally1 hybrid machines this 12 months, with a 3rd of the 363.44km gravel route model new for this 12 months. The phases are additionally rougher and have extra sand to offer a stern check.
After finishing the occasion recce, Ogier is satisfied the duty forward will probably be more durable for crews and would require a intelligent strategic strategy to get pleasure from a trouble-free run to the end.
“To this point it seems much more difficult than what we had final 12 months,” stated Ogier.
“Then goal from the organisers was to make it tougher and that has actually been reached.
“It seems very tough in locations and for certain it will likely be about surviving by many many sections, greater than final 12 months.
“It will likely be a tough process to search out the correct rhythm I imagine as a result of there will probably be some occasions the place it’s irritating to just accept to lose time, however possibly it’s the technique to succeed in the tip with out hassle, and possibly it is going to convey you fairly excessive within the rankings. For certain, the distinction to Le Mans is kind of large.
“I believe the principle purpose to return again was undoubtedly the folks right here, there was such an ideal ambiance final 12 months and I anticipate even higher this 12 months with much less COVID restrictions so let’s see what we will do.
“Now we have new automobiles and we all know it’s going to be tough for them to outlive right here so it’s laborious to foretell any outcome to be trustworthy.
“So it’s undoubtedly a rally the place it’s important to by no means surrender, and this 12 months with the automobiles nonetheless being so new, we’d need to be much more intelligent than earlier than.”
Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1
Photograph by: Tomasz Kaliński
Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans echoed Ogier’s ideas after the recce, admitting drivers should “take extra care” when navigating sure sections.
“We’ll use some sections that we used final 12 months and a few new elements however we will see that it is a little more on the tough aspect and excessive, so we might want to take a bit extra care,” stated Evans. “It will likely be a difficult weekend.”
Championship chief and Toyota stablemate Kalle Rovanpera faces the duty of opening the gravel phases on Friday when the rally correct begins after Thursday’s tremendous particular curtain-raiser.
The Finn, who holds a 55-point lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, is already anticipating a troublesome process appearing because the roadsweeper.
“The situations are already a bit completely different in comparison with final 12 months and we will see it has been evolving a bit,” stated Rovanpera, who topped Wednesday’s shakedown by 0.5 seconds from Neuville.
“I believe the problem would be the similar as final 12 months, which is simply to outlive all the situations.
“Often opening the roads right here is kind of tough as there may be various unfastened gravel. We won’t be in the most effective place to start out on Friday however let’s see.”
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