While both Ford and Toyota have been victorious at the Safari Rally before, Hyundai will head to the African continent this weekend for the very first time. The team will aim to end their 2021 misfortune thus far by going all-out.
As Sordo started competing in 2003 and Neuvile and Tänak in 2009, the Safari Rally will also be a completely new test for all three Hyundai drivers as well.
Thierry Neuville, Dani Sordo as well as Ott Tänak will aim for victory, while Oliver Solberg in his first-ever gravel test, should not be taken out of the account as well.
Thierry Neuville and Martjin Wydaeghe in particular, have already scored four podiums (in five rounds) this year. While all four were third positions, Neuville will not only hope to finish higher, but to also take on Elfyn Evans and Sebastien Ogier in the title fight.
While Neuville has had a reasonably steady season, both Tänak and Sordo have had a mixture of results, with the former being the only Hyundai team thus far, to have bested the Toyota’s this season.
All three of the Hyundai Shell Mobis World Rally Team crews, tested in the South of Portugal a few weeks ago in preparation for the Safari Rally. However, the team will only get their first real taste of rocky gravel roads in the recce.
Hyundai certainly takes the mixture of terrain and the unpredictability of the weather into account, while co-drivers might also be tested to the best of their abilities. The Safari Rally will be anything, but predictable.
What the team has to say:
Team Principal Andrea Adamo said: “We head to Kenya knowing that we have to deliver. We also know that it will be far from a straightforward weekend. The Safari Rally is an iconic event in the World Rally Championship, and it will be a pleasure for Hyundai Motorsport to compete in our first WRC round in Africa. The stages are going to be demanding and unknown to our three crews, so there is a lot of preparation work to carry out before we even reach to the opening stage. We have seen the pace of our Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC on gravel recently, but we have not achieved the desired results. The objective is for a strong team result and to re-energise our championship campaign.”
Neuville said: “I think everyone is excited to have Safari Rally Kenya on the calendar. I have heard stories from drivers who have had the chance to go there in the past, who have described the adventure they lived at the time. It will be a different experience for us, as the rallying has evolved over time. I don’t know what is waiting for us, but I hope to come back with a big trophy. We’ll be seeing zebras, elephants and giraffes; it is going to be fun!”
Tänak said: “Safari Rally Kenya is a new event for me, and Africa is a place where I’ve never been. I am looking forward to it, although I expect it to a bit of an adventure. I have seen some footage from previous rallies; it is one of those events where to finish first, first you have to finish. It seems to be a wild, wild place – and it will definitely be different to anything else on the calendar, something special. Hopefully everything will work out in our favour.”
Sordo said: “We left Sardinia feeling unfulfilled with our weekend because we knew we were capable of much more. The car was fast and showed its potential on tough gravel roads. Kenya will be another challenge, but it is going to be an incredible experience. Safari Rally is like nothing else, it’s an event that we have never contested, with really unique stage profiles. I like to drive in these sorts of conditions; it’s going to be a hard rally like in the past, so let’s see how we get on. We’re hoping to score a good result for the team, who have been working non-stop to prepare for these events.”
Pictures: Hyundai Motorsport