Struggles in Safari Rally Kenya | Hyundai N

Struggles in Safari Rally Kenya | Hyundai N

We have had a character-building weekend at Safari Rally Kenya, the seventh round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) season, which took place this weekend (June 21-25).

Dani/Cándido were our highest placed crew in fifth after 19 tough and tricky stages, while Thierry/Martijn and Esapekka/Janne were forced to retire on Friday and Saturday respectively with technical issues. Both returned on Sunday to score points in the rally’s Power Stage.

“We are extremely disappointed and the whole team is downhearted,” admitted our Team Principal, Cyril. “Overall it has been a poor weekend for us, but one that needs to be a useful platform to address our technical issues before the next rally.”

Best of the rest

Dani and Cándido were consistent on the roads yet struggled to match the pace of those ahead of them. A clean run on Sunday consolidated their position and scored important points for our team in the manufacturers’ battle.

“In the end it was not as bad as it could have been, but we did expect more,” said Dani. “It was quite rough in some places but the car was really strong – it is amazing how much you can put these cars through.”

Our Finnish crew were in the podium fight before their heart-breaking retirement on Saturday with a broken prop shaft. Esapekka and Janne returned on Sunday to claim fifth in the Power Stage, but it was a disappointing end to a promising first Safari Rally Kenya for the pair.

“The result is not what we all wanted but that’s a different story,” reflected Esapekka. “I need to be pleased with the pace that we had and that we were really fighting for the podium positions until our technical problem yesterday.”

Flying finish

Thierry and Martijn were forced to retire on Friday’s penultimate stage with broken suspension. They came back fighting on Saturday to climb from 16th back into the top ten, ending the day in ninth. On Sunday they overhauled a four-minute deficit to snatch eighth place, and an aggressive run through the Power Stage secured maximum points.

“A tough and challenging weekend,” summarised Thierry, who remains second in the drivers’ standings after a trying event. “. We did our best in the car, took the five points in the Power Stage and fought back to eighth place, which was the maximum we could do today.”

WRC will return to Rally Estonia for round eight of the 2023 season, which will take place on July 20-23.