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Rally Kenya: winner, Ogier flies to the World Championship


The Frenchman won on African tracks, which allowed him to increase his lead in the general classification.

Frenchman Sébastien Ogier (Toyota) won the Kenya Safari Rally on Sunday, back on the world calendar after a 19-year absence, ahead of his Japanese teammate Takamoto Katsuta and Estonian Ott Tänak (Hyundai). “This rally was an incredible experience. We received extraordinary support from the people. Thank you very much, you have a beautiful country!”Ogier said as he stepped down from the podium. “This rally may be shorter than in the past, it remains a very big challenge and we liked itHe added, with a few Kenyans in local costume beside him, thrown in a victory dance.

Thanks to this 53rd WRC victory, including four in six rounds this season, the seven-time French world champion widens the gap at the top of the World Championship (WRC). He is more than ever in search of an 8th world title for what he has announced as his last full season in rallying. But the next generation is ready because Katsuta, 28, 2nd went to the end of an almost perfect rally for him, despite his lack of experience, just like the French Adrien Fourmaux, 26, 4th in his Ford Fiesta entered by the M-Sport team. They drove really fast, while making a minimum of mistakes, and they were rewarded.

The abandonment of Thierry Neuville

The last twist of this thrilling rally, like the venerable East African Safari in the last century, was the work of the unfortunate Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). The Belgian, who had been leading the rally since Friday morning at a breakneck pace, retired with a broken right rear shock absorber. It was in the first special stage of this last morning (SS14) and it was without appeal, because no assistance was planned and there were four stages to go, on rough and tricky tracks.

As if by chance, Ogier set the best time of this SS14, ahead of Fourmaux. Then he joined Katsuta in the lead, after SS16 and took the lead after SS17, just to tackle the Power Stage with a few seconds ahead of the Japanese, to kill the suspense. The 7th round of the year will take place in Estonia from July 15 to 18, and therefore on the land of Tänak, 2019 world champion. A Tänak who will leave Nairobi with 20 points, thanks to his best time in the Power Stage final, with five bonus points. It could count at the end of the season …

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