Thierry Neuville and Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) took their first 2021 World Rally Championship win in dominant fashion and on home soil. Teammate, Craig Breen finished second for a second consecutive time in only his second rally of the season, while Sebastien Ogier (Toyota Gazoo Racing) extended his championship lead.
Arguably the fastest event on the 2021 World Rally Championship calendar, the Rally Estonia event this weekend saw the crowning of a new youngest-ever event winner. Simoultaneously, Toyota also took its sixth victory of the seven-event old 2021 championship.
Toyota, who is renowned for its World Rally Championship Safari Rally victories, won the 2021 edition yet again. Simultaneously, Sebastien Ogier/ Julien Ingrassia also took their fourth victory of the season as their biggest title rivals retired. Takamoto Katsuta / Dan Barritt also claimed their first ever podium with Toyota Gazoo Racing, whilst rally favorite, Thierry Neuville / Martin Wydaeghe again found themselves with bad luck, having to retire from the lead.
While Mitsubishi and Subaru might have taken victory on several occasions during the history of the Safari Rally, no other manufacturer has been as successful as Toyota between the WRC Safari Rally years of 1973 and 2002. During this time, the Japanese manufacturer took the chequered flag on eight occasions. With Team Gazoo Racing already being so dominant in 2021, will we see yet another win from them this year?
Not only did Ford win the previous Safari Rally back in 2002, but they also stand as one of the most renowned manufacturers for the event.
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.
SobieSlaw Zasada, a former 3-time European Champion, will return to tackle the gruelling Safari Rally this coming weekend. The Pole will not only become the oldest ever FIA World Rally Championship competitor, but will also compete against youngsters, 70 years his junior.
Having signed with the Hyundai squad for 2020, the son of legendary 3-tim FIA World Champion will swop his R5 run machinery, raced in Monte Carlo, for a full-spec World Rally Championship car.
The Audi-Porsche Genesis
Audi Sport, a name that can not be mentioned without a referral to the Group B (or rather the “Golden”) Era of the World Rally Championship in the 1980’s. While it was short-lived, it was Audi, who took the first step in creating a four-wheel drive rally car, intriguing other manufacturers like Peugeot, Lancia, MG and Ford to join the fight.
Text: Franco Theron and Junaid Samodien
Since the dawn of the 19th century, motorsport has always existed due to two key factors. Through the decades, these factors have either worked together very closely and successfully or either against one another, proving unsustainable for the sport. These two factors speak to the needs of the spectators as well as the big manufacturers (brands). The following article will analyse the movement of the motorsport world into different directions, perhaps towards an imbalance between the two factors.