This year’s Safari Rally Kenya was quite possibly the most brutal World Rally Championship rally in a generation.
After recce, the crews were quick to notice that the 2022 iteration was going to be much tougher than the rally that had come before it. And they were right.
Championship leader Kalle Rovanperä quickly identified that the stages were rougher, softer and featured more fesh-fesh than in 2021 when the event returned to the WRC for the first time since 2002.
Sébastien Ogier meanwhile spotted that rocks pulled in the line for those further behind could be a bigger problem than the previous year too.
Naturally, as the two most recent winners of Safari Rally Kenya, the two Toyota drivers were bang on the money.
“Of course it was the toughest rally I have done,” Rovanperä told DirtFish at the end, “especially this year the condition was much tougher than last year.
“So yeah it was a big job for the cars and the drivers to stay in one piece and also the changing weather with the rain and everything.”
But did Rovanperä enjoy it?
“Of course I did!” he smiled.
“Of course this is not an event you enjoy the normal way, like enjoy the driving all the time because you have such tough places and conditions that you don’t feel so comfortable all the time going there.
“But yeah, you can enjoy when you have a result like this.”
You didn’t have to win the Safari to enjoy it though.
“It’s an adventure that is for sure,” said Oliver Solberg, who was 10th overall following a catalogue of problems.
“I’m very excited to be back next year.”
Elfyn Evans’ stance echoed that of his rally-winning team-mate.
“Now [we have finished the rally] I think we can say I enjoyed it,” he said.
“I don’t think you get the thrill of driving quite the same as you do in Finland or that type of event but it’s definitely been an enjoyable experience.
“I think it’s a challenge to get all your pacenotes right, it takes a lot of work and I was happy with all that side of things that we managed to do.
“So yeah I would say I’ve enjoyed the experience but maybe perhaps not the ultimate driving thrill.”
That’s the magic of the Safari though. It certainly cannot be accused of blending in with the crowd, which is why even when from a sporting perspective Craig Breen’s weekend was “just a bit of a disaster really”, he still “enjoyed every second” of his first visit to Africa.
“The experience has been nice being here, being in the country and taking it all in,” he said.
“I’d like to have been going for a cut at it, there’s some nice roads and some nice stages, but not [this weekend].”