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WRC - S.Ogier: "The show was great and that is what people want to see"

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2023 Safari Rally Kenya - Transcript of the post-event press conference organised by the FIA on June 25, 2023



1st - Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Sébastien Ogier (FRA), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

1st - Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT, Vincent Landais (FRA), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

2nd - Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Kalle Rovanperä (FIN), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

3rd - Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT – Elfyn Evans (GBR), Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid

Jari-Matti Latvala, Team Principal, rep. of the winning team Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT


Q: I’ll start with our rally winner Sébastien Ogier. Seb, it is always an adventure but this has been a real adventure you have had some ups and down, give us a summary of your rally?

SO: I think it was a hell of a weekend for sure, but some say a proper Safari Rally and I think the show was great and that is what people want to see. There is many people I need to congratulate for this amazing result, obviously a 1-2-3-4 for Toyota again is amazing again and there is many people working for that behind us. I want to say hats off because this is the toughest rally of the season, and to be the top four two years in a row is really amazing. I want to thank my team-mates and of course Vincent [Landais, co-driver] who did a great job with me. Kalle [Rovanperä] and Jonne [Halttunen], second place just behind us and honestly they kept us under pressure the whole weekend and again they showed why they are the new world champions and why they succeed in scoring top results all the time. Then of course Elfyn [Evans] also on the podium. I think I am going to enjoy this one and it will take a bit of time to let it sink in because all of the elements I had to fight during this rally made it very exhausting, but it is also in adversity that you enjoy the wins the most. This one I will for sure count it as good one and a well-deserved one so I am a very happy man today.   

Q: Obviously a lot of adversity can you go through some of your highs and lows? What stuck out in your mind?

SO: Yeah there was a lot of highs I think our pace was great and we had the capacity to push and make some difference when we wanted, but also every day we were hit by a couple of issues. We had the hybrid on day one, then three punctures on day two, and we lost the tailgate this morning after a very little impact. It was not so lucky I would say but okay it was my mistake I touched the tree, but probably the hardest issues was the second last stage of the rally with this fesh section, where honestly there is not much you can do, you have to go through. And then we started to have this massive overheating problem and still a long way to go in the stage, our engine luckily is strongly built and it probably lost a bit of power through the end of the weekend and the powerstage, but it still brought us back.     

Q: We are going to move to the gentleman that has guide you through, Vincent Landais. You have won Monte Carlo and now Safari Rally Kenya what it is like?   

VD: It has been a wonderful season so far. It has been quite an amazing season for me. I have been on the podium three times in my life and it has been three victories, so I cannot complain for the moment I have to say. It is so, so nice and in my mind Monte Carlo, Mexico and here are the most important rallies. 

Q: We hear from the drivers about how demanding this rally is what is like from your seat?

VD: It was quite a big challenge for me also because the roads are quite different from anywhere else. I couldn’t see the road sometimes because my head was shaking a lot in the set so I couldn’t read some pacenotes so I had to take some time before to properly check and be sure the pacenotes were like this because my book is moving too much and I couldn’t see. It was a proper challenge.

Q: Kalle, it is brilliant championship points you extend that championship margin. You kept telling us that it is about the championship and then you kept pressuring Seb as the stage times kept coming, particularly on Sunday morning. How do you see it from your side?

KR: It was a good weekend and we went according to our plan, let’s say. It was quite a good and steady pace the whole weekend. We didn’t really take any crazy risks and I didn’t have any punctures or any issues with the car to be honest, so the plan was to be quick, and of course like always you need to keep the pressure on if there is someone in front or behind, so that was the plan to keep the pressure on a bit and see what happens.

Q: This morning the stage times and split times were coming in your favour. Were you surprised you took so much or Seb was so cautious, was there a plan this morning to try and scare the French pairing?  

KR: I think it was just quite a rough stage (stage 14) which I knew was quite short and we could manage it without any issues, and we had enough time gap behind to try and be a bit quicker. Everybody else was just a bit cautious in the rough conditions. It was nothing special but a good chunk of time and we got a bit closer.

Q: Elfyn, you had quite a few stories to tell but now you have got that third place and a big step championship-wise in the positions, are you satisfied?

EE: It is hard to be satisfied when you finish like three minutes behind your team-mates, it is hard in that context for sure. But in one way we are here and scored good, reasonable points in the championship, although Kalle is extending his lead but I think it is a great result for the team and I’m happy to be part of that of course. It is hard to be happy but it could have been a lot worse considering it is Safari Rally.

Q: How demanding was it this weekend? We saw little bits of damage and on Saturday afternoon you went straight through a bush which could have gone differently, you rode your luck sometimes?

EE: Yeah, for sure I got caught out a couple of times by these dry muddy ruts here that seemed to catch me out. I had the issues in the water splash and then the puncture on day two. A few things happened but I’m happy to be here at the end.

Q: Jari-Matti Latvala you have got the manufacturers’ trophy in front of you. What does this mean, another 1-2-3-4 for Toyota at Safari Rally Kenya.

JML: When we won this 1-2-3-4 last year I thought it was something that takes decades to win but it happened one year later. So what I can say is we have an excellent team of people, a reliable and strong car, and then we have the drivers who have the patience in this event to drive a clever way, which is a combination of driving fast but also slowing down for the rough places and understanding the history of this event, and coming with the right philosophy has achieved this result. I have to say thank you to everybody.

Q: When we left Sardinia people were saying Toyota were in turmoil and you had lots of dramas but you came here and fight back and you didn’t really do anything different?

JML: In Sardinia there were difficult conditions and it was not normal to have so many water splashes and yeah there were things we need to improve. But of course I think the conditions were a bit extreme there, we learned how we need to approach coming to Kenya and how we need to approach the water splashes, and I think this was the only problem we had in Sardinia, so we knew otherwise the car is strong and we showed it here.



Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), Škoda Fabia Evo

Q: Kajto, what a weekend it is, repeating a victory from last year but this year you had a battle for a day and a half in demanding conditions, and then you had a massive lead to defend, how challenging was it for you?

KK: It has been a really good weekend for us, so exciting and much more exciting than last year and as you say we had a big battle. It wasn’t easy to keep the pressure on but we did it. I’m extremely happy, but tired. We won it for a second time and it is not easy here at the Safari Rally and it is a completely different rally compared to the others. There is so much information in the pacenotes it is difficult to read the road and it is impossible to remember everything. On the recce we had the pacenotes from last year and I started to put more information on my pacenotes and my co-driver said he couldn’t read it as he had no time. He wanted to have time to understand it. It is such a difficult rally and so complicated. I am more happy with this win than the others from the past.        

Q: What was more difficult being in a direct fight with Gregoire Munster fighting over a seconds or having a 10 minute lead. Which was more stressful?

KK: I was trying to be a like a machine, like a computer every day. When I woke up I said to myself that I had to do my job and don’t think too much. Stage by stage, day by day we did it.  This the answer too you question.




Armin Kremer (GER), Škoda Fabia Evo

Q: This is the first time you have been to Safari Rally Kenya and of all the things you have achieved you have now won WRC2 Masters, how do you feel about that?

AK: It was an incredible rally for us. It is a new one and it was my first time in Africa, so like Kajto it was the same situation for the roads. You make pacenotes but you have no time. For us I’m really, really happy. We had two runs with zero points in Portugal and Sardinia and I think we are back in the championship so I will see what we can do in Estonia next time.

Q: Obviously coming here for the first time you have heard the stories but did it live up to that adventure or was it far more challenging?  

AK: I think this rally is so crazy and not normal compared to European rallies. Everybody says you can come to this place and drive this race and you understand this race. 




Diego Dominguez (PRY), Ford Fiesta Rally3

Q: You came here last year and retired and you come back. How difficult and demanding was it? You were the only WRC3 car to do the whole rally without any problem. How tough was it?

DD: To be completely honest it was a nightmare. This rally definitely past the expectations. I was here last year and I only did the stage in Nairobi, Loldia but I retried in Kedong. I have to say it is really tricky to finish this rally without having to do Super Rally in a Rally3 car. I have to say the Fiesta Rally3 is pretty tough.  

Q: What has been the biggest challenge this weekend for you?

DD: Everything. Since the first stage of the rally we were having zebra, hogs, Impalas, everything crossing in front of us. Then there were all the ruts that WRC P1 and P2 cars were leaving for us to try and go through. Definitely one of the hardest challenge was today with the second pass of Oserian which was a nightmare.

Q: Tell everybody what were you doing in lunchtime service yesterday instead of eating, you were changing your gearbox because you didn’t have enough mechanics. This is a proper privateer effort?

DD: It is, but it is how you’re supposed to do it. You have to help then people around you and it is something I enjoy doing.