M-Sport calls for Safari route rethink

Richard Millener says the levels of fesh-fesh in 2022 will put off competitors from returning next year


M-Sport Ford principal Richard Millener has urged Safari Rally Kenya organizers to rethink the route for next year’s African round of the World Rally Championship.

While accepting of the historical challenge that is the Safari, Millener said prolonged sections with the fine powder fesh-fesh were too much for the current hybrid Rally1 cars.

“Before I start, I want to be clear that this has nothing to do with our result,” Millener told DirtFish.

“We were beaten fair and square by Toyota, credit to them. But the level of fesh-fesh was concerning this year. Last time we lost Kalle Rovanperä to that surface and this year two Rally2 cars ingested a load of dust and had their engines seize.


“Let’s not forget it’s tens of thousands of pounds just to put the car on a plane to bring it here. Are we going to get privateers coming out to do this great rally if they know they’ve only got a slim chance of finishing? I don’t think so.

“I know what you’re thinking, I know you’re probably thinking it’s OK. It’s not really. We need to find a balance with the roads and some of those roads were too much.

“We don’t really want cars going to the powerstage separated by big, big gaps – we want the rally to be decided on the powerstage and that’s only going to happen on more sensible roads.”

Fesh-fesh aside, Millener loved his maiden trip to the Safari, with M-Sport having run its operations from home in Britain last year.

“The people, the atmosphere and most of the roads are just fantastic,” he said.

“In fairness, the backdrops and the scenery are by far the best in the world – and there’s no question we need the Safari Rally [Kenya], but we have to make sure it’s survivable and survivable with these cars.”

There had been some calling for more Safari-specific cars with different aero and cooling options.

“Once we start to allow the teams to run even a Safari-specific bumper, we’re opening the floodgates,” Millener added.

“You think it’s just a bumper to allow more air in or to keep more sand out, but some of the teams will start with CFD, they’ll be building aero into it and we’re back to spending a fortune.


“The Safari provided some of the best and most engaging action of the season, but let’s just make it a little bit more straightforward and we can have even closer and more interesting competition.”

M-Sport suffered at the hands of the Safari, with none of the factory cars making it through the event without retiring at some point. Craig Breen’s was the first Puma home in sixth place. Jourdain Serderidis was seventh, his private car having run for whole route.

“There were positives for us in Safari,” added Millener. “We saw Séb [Loeb] and Adrien [Fourmaux] were able to win stages, which demonstrates the car’s performance.”