Ogier wins Safari Rally after Neuville retirement

·2-min read
Sebastien Ogier won the Safari Rally after the withdrawal of Thierry Neuville

Sebastien Ogier extended his lead at the head of the World Rally Championship title race with victory in the Safari Rally in Kenya on Sunday.

Ogier benefitted from the early retirement of overnight leader Thierry Neuville who broke his right rear shock absorber when he hit a rock during the day's first special stage.

Frenchman Ogier came home 21.8 seconds ahead of his Toyota teammate Takamoto Katsuta with the Estonian Ott Tanak third in his Hyundai.

It is Ogier's 53rd career victory and his fourth this season, putting the Frenchman in control of his quest to collect an eighth title.

He now has a 34-point lead over Welshman Elfyn Evans with Neuville third, 56 points behind Ogier, who had to claw his way back from seventh after suffering suspension troubles on Friday.

"This rally was an incredible experience," said a delighted Ogier on the podium at the end of the first WRC rally in Kenya for 19 years.

"After our troubles on Friday, we had a really good weekend, really good pace. We received extraordinary support from the people.

"This rally may be shorter than in the past, it's still a very big challenge and we liked it."

Neuville, who held a 57-second lead overnight over Takamoto Katsuta, also in a Toyota, arrived at the end of the first stage with a severely damaged right rear suspension, having lost one minute over 11 kilometres.

"It's heartbreaking to end the WE (weekend) like this," said Neuville on Twitter.

"We had to retire after our suspension broke in SS14 this morning. This is how it is but I feel sad for us & the team.

"I think we all did the job and everybody is working very hard. There’s no one to blame and we will continue to push."

Tanak is 67 points behind Ogier in fourth place in the title race but kept his hopes alive with victory in the final Power Stage finale which gave him five bonus points and ensured he left Nairobi with 20 points in the bag.

He will be the home favourite in the next seventh round of the WRC which takes place in Estonia from July 15-18.


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