Tänak out of Safari podium fight with technical problem

Hyundai's best shot of challenging Toyota for the Safari podium places has ground to a shuddering halt


Ott Tänak has surrendered his grip on fourth of Safari Rally Kenya, parking up on the stage, while Hyundai team-mate Thierry Neuville has closed right up on the podium places.

The second pass of Sleeping Warrior last year is what arguably wrecked Tänak’s bid for victory on last year’s event as the windshield wipers failed when the rain began to lash down.

This year Tänak wasn’t quite in the running for victory but he had been making handsome inroads into Takamoto Katsuta’s third place – continuing that pace on the first run of this year’s Sleeping Warrior test.

But it all went wrong towards the end of the stage as the Rally Italy winner’s Hyundai suddenly started making a terrible noise and Tänak stopped to investigate.


He then continued again but at a snail’s pace, before he and Martin Järveoja started growing concerned that something may be burning under the car.

That led Tänak to stop again, removing the front-right wheel and even detaching the the sump guard to get a good look underneath.

But despite his best efforts, Tänak was forced to retire.

Kalle Rovanperä continues to lead the rally, immune from the drama that has afflicted so many, as his lead grew to 19.4 seconds after SS10.

“I just tried to be careful and the time is not too bad,” Rovanperä said.

As he had been on the previous test, Neuville was fastest on the stage to close to 7.4s behind Katsuta – despite having a rear-right puncture for the last couple of miles.


But both Katsuta and Elfyn Evans had soft tires of their own. While Katsuta dropped 17s to Neuville to begin to fall into his clutches, Evans only shipped 6.6s.

“We did have a puncture at the end but realistically I don’t think it cost us too, too much,” said Evans.

“I think we were a bit careful over this really rough part but as you can see we still got a puncture so it’s difficult to judge the speed.”

Sébastien Loeb had a slightly more difficult time on Sleeping Warrior compared to the rest of his morning, as both he and co-driver Isabelle Galmiche suffered from dust infiltrating his cockpit and then an encounter with the local wildlife.

“It’s coming in from the doors all the time, and each corner, phwoar,” Loeb said, pausing to cough, “we get a lot. It’s difficult to breathe and for her [Galmiche] it’s difficult to speak.


“You can check something in the stage,” he added. “We nearly crashed with a zebra at full speed and then 200 meters later we had a giraffe, so it will be a nice picture!”

M-Sport team-mate Craig Breen was again a hefty 41.7s slower than Loeb but that was all part of his strategy, even if he admitted the safety-first driving was “pretty boring”.

“I think I’d be in bother if that was flat out, I’d be losing my job pretty quick!” Breen quipped.

The approach is paying off though as Breen is now up to seventh – due to Tänak’s demise – while Oliver Solberg was, in turn, promoted to sixth.

“What a crazy morning, unbelievable! I’m so happy to be here,” Solberg said. “I just have to bring it home now for the team.”