Two M-Sport drivers out of Safari, lead gap narrows

Greensmith and Fourmaux's woes lead to retirements, while Evans is closing on Rovanperä out front


M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux both retired from Safari Rally Kenya as Elfyn Evans took another nibble out of Kalle Rovanperä’s lead.

Greensmith rolled in a rut on a slow, tight right-hander and lost 23 minutes on the opening test of Saturday morning.

He did well to make it to the start of Elmenteita but he and co-driver Jonas Andersson were donning a pair of goggles as their M-Sport Ford had no windshield.

It cost them another minute on SS9 as their pace naturally reduced – Greensmith describing the situation as “horrible” at the end of the stage.

But soon after the stop-line, Greensmith pulled up once more and retired from the rally for the day due to cooling management issues.

Fourmaux meanwhile wouldn’t even make it to the start of SS9. He dropped five minutes on SS8, first with a puncture and then with broken rear-left suspension.

He attempted to fix the wonky suspension, but Fourmaux and co-driver Alexandre Coria ran out of time and were also forced to retire from Saturday.

Oliver Solberg was the other driver in the wars on the road sections around Elmenteita rather than the stage itself.

Having clouted a rock in the line of a fast corner on the previous stage, Solberg had repairs to make on his Hyundai and with big gaps in front and behind him on the leaderboard, he opted to take his time.

Solberg checked into SS9 seven minutes late, incurring 1m10s in time penalties, but it did nothing to affect his overall position of seventh.


“I had to try and fix the car, something was bent,” he explained.

“Nothing too severe but I just wanted to take my time to fix it properly. I have a big gap in front and a big gap behind, I just tried to take it safely.”

At the head of the pack, Evans trimmed Rovanperä’s lead to 15s, going 1.1s faster on SS9, but it was Thierry Neuville who set the pace – 0.9s faster than first on the road Sébastien Loeb.

That was despite Neuville feeling he still had no “good visibility” due to a cracked windshield picked up on the previous test.

Ott Tänak has designs on Takamoto Katsuta’s third place though, closing to just 4.9s behind after stealing 1.6s from the Toyota Next Generation driver on Saturday’s second stage.


A resigned Sébastien Ogier is fading into an increasingly anonymous sixth place, 1m23.9s behind Neuville but five minutes clear of Solberg.

“At the moment we just try and stay out of trouble, there’s nobody around us,” he said.

Ogier was seventh fastest on SS9.

Craig Breen’s true speed was masked by getting caught in the dust of team-mate Fourmaux on Saturday morning’s opener, but his 29.4s time loss to his other team-mate Loeb revealed the tactic he was imploring.

“Honestly the speed I’m at and the rhythm we’re at we have enough to get around anything, so it’s going to plan so far,” Breen said.

The M-Sport driver is eighth overall, five minutes behind Hyundai’s Solberg, while WRC2 leader Kajetan Kajetanowicz and M-Sport privateer Jourdan Serderidis complete the top 10.