What Toyota has achieved on Safari Rally Kenya is nothing short of remarkable. To claim a 1-2-3 finish in the World Rally Championship is unprecedented, to make that a 1-2-3-4 is almost unheard of.
But not completely unheard of. The last time this achievement was pulled off was by Citroën on Rally Bulgaria 2010, but before that it was by the very same marque, on the very same rally, just 29 years earlier.
While this year Kalle Rovanperä, Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier brought the goods home for Toyota Gazoo Racing and third-placed Takamoto Katsuta scored points for the standalone Toyota Next Generation concern, back in 1993 all four of Toyota’s entrants were competing under the Toyota Castrol Team banner.
Reigning world champion Juha Kankkunen was the only one of Toyota’s regular drivers to make the trip to Africa as Didier Auriol sat it out. Instead, Markku Alén, Safari legend Ian Duncan and Yasuhiro Iwase were all entrusted with factory Celica ST185s.
The only works opposition came from Kenjiro Shinzuoka’s sole Mitsubishi Lancer in the A8 class as Subaru brought along some A5-spec Vivio Sedans for future world champion Colin McRae, Patrick Nijuru and Masashi Ishida.
Toyota was however peerless. When Shinzuoka’s Mitsubishi retired with engine problems it left the fleet of Celicas unchallenged, but none of the cars nor drivers put a foot wrong to record a sensational formation finish.
It was Kankkunen who won what would be his third and final Safari win, nine minutes clear of Alén with Duncan beating Iwase to the final podium spot.
He would of course claim the 1993 world title too. It remains to be seen if this year’s Finnish winner of the Safari can replicate that particular piece of history, but it’s certainly looking that way.
Comparing the achievements of 1993 and 2022 is almost impossible given how different both the Safari, and WRC rallying in general, is now compared to what it used to be.
But to be able to replicate a dominant top-four lockout and be part of such an historic moment wasn’t lost on ex-driver and current Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala.
“This is an exceptional result,” he said.
“Almost 30 years ago, back in 1993 Toyota did the same in Safari Rally, it’s a very rare moment and I can only thank the teams and the drivers for the superb job they have done.”