M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s crews reach the end of a tough weekend on Safari Rally Kenya. Extraordinarily rough conditions put the crews and cars to the test across brutal and unforgiving stages for the seventh round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship.
Rainy conditions brought another dimension to the challenge, making usually dry and rocky roads wet and extremely slippery, calling from even more caution from the crews.
Ott Tänak showed great skill and determination throughout the weekend, collecting two stage wins and a handful of top-five times. Having made progress with the car’s set-up over the last few events, Tänak benefitted from his increasing knowledge of the Puma. Despite dropping time due to a brush with Kenyan wildlife on Friday, and two punctures throughout the rally, the Estonian crew finished the event sixth overall after a faultless performance with four additional Power Stage points.
Taking in his first kilometers of Kenya’s brutal and distinctive roads, Pierre-Louis Loubet gained invaluable experience on the iconic event, delivering a strong performance with some good splits across the weekend despite his limited knowledge of the stages. Keeping up with teammate Tänak, the young Frenchman had a clean run and finished seventh overall.
Also making his return to WRC in his Puma Rally1 was Jourdan Serderidis, competing his second consecutive Safari Rally. The Greek driver enjoyed competing on his favourite event, and was happy with his own performance. Unfortunately a technical issue on Saturday meant his weekend came to an early end but Serderidis made the most of some difficult conditions and built on his knowledge of the event.
In WRC2, Grégoire Munster put on a fantastic showing for his first ever Safari Rally in his Fiesta Rally2. Munster set top times from the off, leading the rally throughout Friday and Saturday morning. A small issue on Saturday’s penultimate stage cut his day short, and an incident on Sunday morning sadly called an end to his day. and claimed a total of six stage wins across the weekend. He claimed six stage wins throughout the course of the weekend.
The Fiesta Rally2 did see an impressive podium finish for Martin Prokop claiming second in WRC2. It was Prokop’s third Safari Rally, battling with Munster throughout the weekend, and setting consistent top-five times in his M-Sport-built machinery.
Richard Millener, Team Principal, said:
"Kenya is great, it's mad! We've met some great people and seen some amazing fans. Obviously the rally was pretty tough for us, unfortunately the push for any podium position was over on Friday for both guys. But we still got 4 Power Stage points and sixth overall for Ott, we're not a million miles away! The pace on the Power Stage showed the car still has the ability to do well.
"We swap now from one of the roughest rallies of the year to the smoothest and fastest, Ott's home round in Estonia. The plan is to get these cars back, get them ready, and go again in a few weeks. A little bit of a tough weekend, but we're all still motivated to do well and try to keep us in that title fight."
Ott Tänak, Sixth Overall, said:
"Altogether a great safari with a lot of passionate fans a people who clearly love rally. So far it's been a bit tricky this year, so we need to find a bit of speed for the next rally as it is all about the speed now."
Pierre-Louis Loubet, Seventh Overall, said:
“A lot of things happened! A couple of punctures on Friday unfortunately meant we missed the opportunity to do good things, and after that we were missing a bit of confidence and pace. We struggled to find good balance. It was a bit disappointing with the power stage, I wasn’t able to do a good run because I had an issue with the turbo pressure. So I’m a bit disappointed about that, but it’s part of the game.”
Published 25 June 2023