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Despite retiring early on the first full day of Safari Rally Kenya, EV Cargo’s brand ambassador Elfyn Evans managed to salvage enough points from the event to keep his FIA World Rally Championship challenge on track.
After breaking the suspension on his Yaris WRC rally car on the first main day, Elfyn battled back to finish 10th overall, secure four points and remain second in the championship battle.
The ultra-tough round six of the high-profile world series saw Elfyn take on a huge challenge as he and the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC team visited Africa for the first time in nearly 20 years.
With no previous experience of the terrain, no opportunity to test in Africa and a whole new set of pacenotes for the event, it was set to be one of the toughest rounds of the championship.
After a ceremonial start and opening stage in Nairobi, the real action resumed in Naivasha with the opening day on rough, rutted sandy tracks. He set a strong time on stage two, but unfortunately hit a huge rock just 500 metres from the end of stage three – the impact immediately breaking the front right suspension on his Yaris WRC car and forcing him into instant retirement.
A steady run through Saturday saw him gain valuable experience of the tough road conditions and he moved up from 19th to 12th position across the day’s 132 competitive kilometres.
The final day was all about aiming for the top-10 and collecting additional points from the rally-ending Power Stage. Victory on SS15 helped secure 10th spot and he claimed an additional three points from the Power Stage – enough to maintain a strong second place in the title fight.
The series now moves to Europe’s smoother, faster roads with Rally Estonia from 15-18 July.
Elfyn Evans said: “It was a tough rally and not the result we came here for. We are obviously disappointed with having to retire on Friday after breaking the suspension and after that it was a case of trying to salvage what we could from the weekend.
“It was important to take away something from the event so we worked hard to climb back up into the top-10 and take Power Stage points. It was also crucial to get experience of all the stages and road conditions for next season.
“We are still second in the championship and need to focus on a strong second half of the season.”