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Toyota Yaris WRC to Face another Challenge on Africa’s Return

The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team is getting ready to take on the epic challenge of the Safari Rally in Kenya on June 24-27 as the iconic event returns to the FIA World Rally Championship for the first time in almost 20 years.

The rally marks a debut on the African continent for the Toyota Yaris WRC, which currently leads both the manufacturers’ and drivers’ championships after winning four of the first five rounds of 2021.

Although it last featured in the WRC in 2002, the Safari Rally has a legendary status in motorsport. Historically, the rally featured incredibly long stages on roads that were still open to the public but, for its comeback, it will run on closed roads with a format similar to other modern WRC rounds.

Still, the expectation is for a demanding event over rough and rocky tracks, with the possibility for heavy rain to transform the dry and dusty surface into deep mud. Adding to the challenge is the fact that the regulations prohibit testing outside of Europe, with Toyota instead using a recent test in Spain to try to prepare as well as possible for what’s to come in Kenya.

The rally will start on Thursday lunchtime from the capital city Nairobi, with a nearby super special in Kasarani to kick-off the competitive action. The rest of the event takes place nearer to the service park on the shores of Lake Naivasha, around 100 kilometers to the northwest. Friday is made up of three stages to the south of the lake all run twice, before a move further north on Saturday to roads around Lake Elmenteita for another trio of repeated tests. The rally ends on Sunday with a total of five stages around Naivasha.

Rallying in Africa will be a new challenge for all team drivers, including seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier, who leads the championship by 11 points over his teammate Elfyn Evans after winning the last round in Sardinia. Sixth in the points is the team’s youngest driver Kalle Rovanperä, while Takamoto Katsuta will once again be in action in a fourth Yaris WRC as part of the TGR WRC Challenge Program.

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