The World Rally Championship resumes next week with the famed Safari Rally, when the WRC caravan returns to Kenya after an almost 20-year absence.
Jari-Matti Latvala, Toyota’s current team manager, had a long career in the World Championship but never got to drive in the renowned Safari rally.
It’s the kind of race I’d like to run, but I’ve never been able to.
Yes, I’ve been to Kenya; my father drove there in 2001. It’s an adventure, very different from past rallies, Latvala tells Rallit.fille.
Now, of course, it has been run in this WRC format. There is still stunning scenery and the surface of the road is quite different. The situation is kind of savannah and there are not so many trees, but more bushes. The roads are clay bottoms that are extremely slippery if it rains, Latvala continues. There is sure to be an exotic adventure where challenges will be enough. Some of the special experiments are taking place in a natural park area, which means that wildlife can be seen along the way. Here are some of the biggest and more exotic animals. That’s a great thing, but let’s hope they stay out of the special stages and aren’t in the way of competitors. The organizer has promised to work for it, Latvala says. Toyota tested this week in Estonia for the World Rally Championship in July. Safari tests were held earlier.
We had tests in Spain at the end of May, where we attempted to integrate the tests from the Sardinian rally and Kenya under really severe conditions. There was a lot of useful information there. Latvala sums it up well: “Safari is coming so rapidly that you can’t truly work for it anymore.”
- Since 2002, Safari has not been run. It’s going to be a unique race with plenty of surprises. Performance is still difficult to predict. If 60 percent of WRC cars are halted in Sardinia, the hazards are high there as well. The most crucial thing is to just get the car to function.
The Kenyan World Rally Championship will take place from June 24 to June 27.