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History was made in the 2022 Safari Rally in Kenya

GR YARIS Rally1 wins African epic with incredible 1-2-3-4 finish
26/06/2022
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing has claimed a historic result at the legendary Safari Rally Kenya with Kalle Rovanperä leading a remarkable clean sweep of the top four positions for the GR YARIS Rally1 car. Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta joined him on the podium with Sébastien Ogier in fourth.

A few words from Team Founder, Akio Toyoda

“Kalle, Jonne, congratulations! Elfyn, Takamoto, Seb, thank you for making the wonderful result! Aaron, congratulations on your first podium!

TGR’s first ever 1-2-3-4 finish was achieved thanks to our crews who brought the cars back safely on such tough roads in Kenya. This event reminded us how important it is to drive through the rally without trouble. Not only the crews, but I also appreciate the team’s support behind it.

Not staying disappointed by the result in Sardinia, the team did a great job to prepare for Kenya in a short space of time. I heard some parts were even completed only after arriving in Kenya. Mechanics and engineers kept discussing between services and did not stop making improvements for the rough surfaces. I’m proud that the team is implementing ever-better car making through the rallies taking place on real roads.

Kalle went wide and his car got damaged on the first day. Many were worried but his mechanics were very confident with a smile and they managed to fix it back in 15 minutes. Of course, Kalle’s driving is amazing to win the rally from this position, but the mechanics’ skills and confidence are great as well.

I’m most pleased to feel that this wonderful achievement is the result of the team’s strength that we have built up over the years. We cannot forget that the fans’ support is also helping the team a lot. I appreciate your continuous support for the second half of the 2022 season.

P.S. Thank you to those from Toyota Kenya who came to cheer for the team. Thanks to your warm welcome and support, we were able to enjoy this rally as another home event!” 

Making history, overcoming challenges, and paving the way

If records are meant to be broken, and limits are set to be pushed, the TOYOTA GAZOO World Rally team is taking it seriously. The 2022 Kenyan Safari Rally marks Toyota's 10th victory on the famous African event, and the first time it has finished 1-2-3-4 in the World Rally Championship since the same rally in 1993. Only once in nearly three decades has any other manufacturer accomplished the same feat in the championship, cementing this day in our team's Hall of Fame. Of course, the road is not without its hazards. Rovanperä caused an early scare by running wide on the first corner of Thursday's opening super special in Nairobi, knocking a tyre off its rim. But he and co-driver Jonne Halttunen then drove faultlessly to their fourth victory in five races, extending their championship lead to 65 points.
“This is a result that I don’t think we could have even imagined before the event. To have a top four that is all Toyota is something amazing and such a great result for the team. It was the hardest rally I’ve ever done, so to have all four cars at the finish with no big issues, it’s clearly the strongest and fastest car. For myself to get the win here like this in such a special rally is really nice. Thank you to the team, everybody did a great job. They are developing the car all the time which is important and that’s helping us to put some good results together.”

Kalle Rovanperä - Driver Car 69

When the going gets though, the tough get going

In its second running since returning to the WRC calendar last year, the Safari delivered even tougher conditions, including deep ‘fesh-fesh’ sand on Friday and wet and muddy surfaces on Saturday in addition to the ever-present rocks and stones. It was by far the hardest challenge yet for the new generation of hybrid powered Rally1 cars, but the GR YARIS survived everything that the Kenyan terrain could throw at it to remain reliable and dominate the weekend without any major issues. The next best-placed car finished eight-and-a-half minutes adrift of the Toyota quartet.
“To achieve a 1-2-3-4 here at the Safari Rally is an exceptional result. It’s nearly 30 years since Toyota managed the same feat here in Kenya with the Celica and I can only thank our team and our drivers for the superb job they have done.”

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team Principal

A black, red, and white podium

Second on the podium are Evans and his co-driver Scott Martin, who also performed brilliantly and kept their team-mates within 20 seconds of victory until the rain came down on Saturday afternoon. They finished 52.8 seconds behind the leaders to earn their second podium of the season.

Katsuta, a TGR WRC Challenge Program driver, rounds out the black, red, and white podium. One year after winning his maiden podium at the same event, Katsuta once again drove a superb and intelligent rally in Kenya's challenging circumstances. His co-driver Aaron Johnston, who participated with him under the TGR World Rally Team Next Generation banner, also achieved his first podium finish.

“It’s been a really nice weekend. Of course, we really wanted to fight for the win, but that slipped away from us on Saturday with one thing or another, and today was about securing this 1-2-3-4 for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing which is obviously a fantastic result to be a part of. It was a tough fight to get through this extreme terrain here in Kenya and while everybody else has struggled, our cars have really come through it so a big well done to the team.”

Elfyn Evans, Driver Car 33

A fourth position that makes a difference

Ogier, the 2021 event winner, led for most of Friday in his title defense until he had to stop and change a tyre on the final stage, losing over two minutes. He and co-driver Benjamin Veillas battled back to fourth overall and, with their team-mates focused on finishing, set the third-fastest time in the rally-ending Power Stage to add to the team's weekend points haul. Its manufacturers’ championship lead has increased to 62 points.
“It has been a really strong weekend. I was only missing a bit of luck but that’s part of the game. Most of all, I’m happy to be a part of this amazing result for the team and I want to congratulate everybody at TOYOTA GAZOO Racing because it’s been a great effort to provide all four of us drivers with such a strong car for three full days on the toughest rally of the season. This rally was a tough challenge up to the end so the whole team deserves a big round of applause, and also my team-mates because they drove very well this weekend.”

Sébastien Ogier, Driver Car 1

Final Classification, Safari Rally Kenya

1.      Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) 3h40m24.9s

2.      Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +52.8s

3.      Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +1m42.7s

4.      Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +2m10.3s

5.      Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +10m40.9s

6.      Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1) +23m27.9s

7.      Jourdan Serderidis/Frédéric Miclotte (Ford Puma Rally1) +30m16.5s

8.      Sébastien Loeb/Isabelle Galmiche (Ford Puma Rally1) +32m12.6s

9.      Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +35m37.6s

10.   Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +37m36.6s.