On what will be his third event with the team, nine-time world champion and 2022 Rallye Monte Carlo winner, Sebastien Loeb, will enter Safari Rally Kenya in a Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 at the end of June.
His most recent outing with the team in Portugal saw him claim a stage win on Friday morning that saw him shoot from seventh overall into the rally lead before an uncharacteristic accident would see him retire from the event. Alongside his victory on Rallye Monte Carlo back in January, Loeb continues to prove his ability to get the best out of the Puma Hybrid Rally1 on all surfaces.
Loeb will launch into action again on the Naivasha-based event, 100km north-west of capital Nairobi. Safari Rally Kenya 2022 marks round six of the 2022 FIA World Rally Championship. The nine-time world champion will be joined again by Isabelle Galmiche, who saw him to victory in Monte Carlo and sat with him in Portugal.
This year marks 20 years since Loeb’s first and only appearance in Kenya so far, when he finished in a strong fifth overall and claimed three stage wins throughout the rally. Last year’s event underlined the importance of being able to read and react to the terrain, something Loeb is more than accustomed to thanks to his successful exploits in rally-raid competition.
The famous gravel-based event, that features stages around Lake Naivasha as well as forested areas in the north of the region, returned to the WRC in 2021 after a 19-year absence. The rally was a universal hit, featuring action-packed water crossings, jumps and even wildlife, making it one of the most iconic rallies on the calendar.
Sebastien Loeb, said:
“For sure it was nice to see we were competitive in Portugal with the Puma which was good, it is good to know the Puma is very fast and competitive on gravel. Kenya is something very different to Portugal, I don’t know the current version of the rally, I have seen some videos of the stages which are very different, they appear to be rough with very big stones.
“Kenya is quite amazing; I think it’s the rally from where I have the most memories! At that time Kenya was very different, the longest stage was 120km long and we all had a helicopter over our cars announcing all the wildlife that we were approaching on the stage. Now it is very different and is more like a typical WRC rally, it is easier to do it this way but the difference for me compared to Portugal is I have no experience of these stages. It is always much more complicated when you arrive to a rally where you have never done the stages before, it will not make it easy but I am really happy to be going.”
Rich Millener, Team Principal, said:
“The team is thrilled to have Seb and Isabelle back with us again, on what is one of the most iconic events of the season. This is only our second time back in Kenya since the event re-joined the WRC, and myself and the team are looking forward to returning with a four-strong fleet of Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1s.
“Seb obviously has a fantastic track record on gravel events, and his performance on Rallye Monte Carlo, and Portugal, while it lasted, showed us what both he and this car are capable of. With Safari Rally still a fairly new edition to the rally calendar, we have a pretty even playing field and think with Seb in the team we can really show everyone what the Puma can do.
“It’s always fantastic having Seb with us, the atmosphere it brings to the service park but also his drive and motivation is unparalleled, and something we all thrive off.”