On Wednesday, the drivers had an opportunity to acclimatize with the African rally terrain through a shakedown session before the event officially flags off on Thursday morning in Nairobi City.
During the 5.04 kilometers (3.3 miles) warm-up in Loldia, Naivasha, FIA World Rally Champion Kalle Rovanpera set the pace five-tenths of a second ahead of his closest title challenger Thierry Neuville driving a Hyundai i20 N.
Sebastien Loeb was 1.3 seconds behind, cruising through the scenic plains overlooking the picturesque Rift Valley in an M-Sport Ford Puma.
While the conditions in Naivasha seem torrid, things could get muddy as the country gets into its second rainy season in late June.
During last year’s event, 2021 WRC Safari Rally winner Sebastien Ogier clinched the top spot driving a GR-Yaris before his teammate Kalle Rovanpera posted the benchmark time on the second run.
A lot of drivers are anticipating a more arduous track this year. “We had our first proper taste of a real Safari stage this morning over the 5.4-kilometer shakedown. It was a really enjoyable run, but a puncture on the second pass cost us some time,” Craig Breen, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team driver, said.
2021 WRC Safari Rally winner, Sebastien Ogier, told WRC, “it seems that this year the rally will be even tougher. I was not expecting such rough conditions like we saw on the recce, and the roads are even more soft than last year,” he explained.
The 2022 WRC Safari Rally officially kicks off Thursday at the monumental KICC (Kenyatta International Conference Center). The drivers will have a short two-at-a-time sprint to the Moi International Sports Stadium Kasarani Stadium in Nairobi, City, before flooring their racers 100 kilometers (62 miles) to the wildlife game reserve town of Naivasha, where the event takes place.
Shakedown done for us ???? we had some issues this morning but got them fixed now (slow time on last run due to having to pass a car!), and it's good to get our first taste of the @wrcsafarirally stages. You can see how difficult they are! ?????? pic.twitter.com/KEStC9BX0u— Oliver Solberg (@OliverSolberg01) June 22, 2022