Toyota Gazoo Racing Still Leading WRC Safari Rally, Hyundai Motorsport Neuville Closing In

No one said the 2022 WRC Safari Rally would be easy. The crews knew it from day one. If you thought Friday’s mishaps were twisted, Saturday was a whole new ball game for the drivers. Like a scene straight out of Mad Max, crews were plowing through the torrid Great Rift Valley rally tracks with crashed panels and wrecked windscreens.
2022 WRC Safari Rally 13 photos
Photo: WRC/TOYOTA GAZOO Racing/Ford M-Sport/Rovanpera
2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari RallySleeping Warrior2022 WRC Safari Rally2022 WRC Safari RallySleeping Warrior
The Maasai will tell you the African wilderness has one rule – survival. For the WRC teams, staying in top shape for the longest time is perhaps their greatest advantage. One false move and you are out. The Toyota Gazoo Racing team seems to get the message. At the time of publishing this piece, they lead the pack with the first three spots.

Saturday stages are the longest and most treacherous of the championship. The 31.04 km (19.28 mi) Sleeping Warrior 1 is the longest stretch with long straights crisscrossing the flat plains, joined by a series of curves. But there’s a catch. The roads are rough, with occasional huge holes. The last 2.5 km (1.55 mi) is a welcome delight for the crews, as the drivers will cruise through a coarse lava bed.

The sleeping warrior is an iconic hill overlooking the great Rift valley Lake Elementaita and resembles a sleeping Maasai warrior. Legend has it that when the warrior awakens, the world will end.

On Friday, Belgian rally driver Thierry Neuville, competing for Hyundai Motorsport, hit the headlines after testing the limits of his Hyundai i20 N rally car on a 1.6 km (0.99 mi) straight stretch. He flat-out blotted hitting a top speed of 183 kph (114 mph) bouncing over bumps and ruts.

On Saturday morning, he picked up the momentum, grabbing his first stage win on the first pass of Elementaita. The Belgian edged out Friday’s favorite and nine-time champion Sébastien Loeb to the benchmark, despite limited visibility due to a cracked screen.

Kalle Rovanpera still holds the top spot in the championship, even though his Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate, Elfyn Evans, reduced the buffer by 1.1-seconds. British rally driver Gus Greensmith, driving for Ford M-Sport, retired for the day after he cut off a right side handler and rolled his M-Sport Ford Puma. The crew is okay.

If you liked the article, please follow us:  Google News icon Google News Youtube Instagram Twitter
About the author: Humphrey Bwayo
Humphrey Bwayo profile photo

Humphrey is a car enthusiast whose love and passion for automobiles extended into collecting, writing, driving, and working on cars. He got his passion for cars from his Dad, who spent thousands of hours working on his old junky 1970 E20 Toyota Corolla. Years later, he would end up doing the same with a series of lemons he’s owned throughout his adult life.
Full profile


Would you like AUTOEVOLUTION to send you notifications?

You will only receive our top stories