Tänak third in Rally Kenya, first in points test
Ott Tänak (Hyundai) came third in this weekend's WRC Safari Rally Kenya, which ended Sunday lunchtime, and posted the fastest time in the final speed test. Six-time world champion Sebastien Ogier (France, Toyota) won the event, with teammate Katsuta Takamoto (Japan) finishing second, for his maiden podium appearance.
The three had all been bumped up one place Sunday morning, after suspension damage forced race-leader Belgian Thierry Neuville, Tänak's teammate at Hyundai, out of the event.
Many drivers, including Tänak, had had their runs interrupted by the local wildlife, with the Estonian encountering a dazzle of Zebra on or near the track at one point Saturday.
Tänak, 2019 WRC drivers' champion, took the fastest points test time, followed by Kalle Rovanperä (Finland), Elfyn Evans (Wales), and Ogier (all Toyota), and Spanish driver Dani Sordo (Hyundai).
Katsuta Takamoto had briefly led the race, before being overtaken by his teammate, Ogier, who outstripped him by 21.8 secs at race-end. Tänak, who had also been held up around 90 seconds Saturday as he manually cleaned his windshield Saturday after a wiper malfunction, was 1 min 9.5 secs behind the race-winner, in third place.
#WRC It's a PODIUM and Power Stage points for @OttTanak & Martin at @wrcsafarirally - well done to our Estonian crew! #HMSGOfficial #SafariRallyKenya pic.twitter.com/mU8QoO4WR5— hmsgofficial (@HMSGOfficial) June 27, 2021
Rally Kenya was back on the WRC calendar this year, after a 17-year absence, extended by a year after the pandemic forced last season's event off the calendar. An African Rally Championship had been held in Kenya annually starting 2003.
While Friday was a comparatively dramatic first full day of racing, partly due to the rough-and-ready nature of much of the track, with environmental considerations preventing extensive clearing track-side, Saturday proved to be calmer, and ended with Tänak in fourth place after 15 stages, behind Neuville, Ogier and Takamoto.
Interaction with local wildlife Saturday morning did, however, compensate for the lull in race-related action, Neuville and Katsuta, as well as Tänak, were forced to slow down due to crossing Zebras. For Sebastien Ogier, gazelles were the track-side order of the day, while Thierry Neuville also subsequently passed a giraffe. In the case of Adrien Fourmaux (Ford M-Sport) it was a roadside encounter with a baboon which meant he had to hit the brakes.
Tänak's next WRC race will be before a home crowd, at the second-ever full WRC Rally Estonia, July 15-18.
Tänak remains fourth in the drivers' table after Rally Kenya.
This article was updated to include the final results.
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Editor: Andrew Whyte