Fetch-fake levels are considered alarming by M-Sport

In 2022, the Safari Rally will once again not fail in its reputation as a particularly difficult event for competitors, with multiple retirements listed over three stages covered on very rough and sandy roads. M-Sport were the main victims of these extremely difficult driving conditions, with Malcolm Wilson’s team seeing their entered cars retire at one point or another during the rally. In the end, the English outfit had to settle for sixth place from Craig Breen for the best result, with the Irishman just ahead of Jordan Cerderidis, the only driver to be relatively spared by the Puma (personal) situation.

Returning to the WRC calendar last year after a 19-year hiatus, the Safari Rally has always offered extremely complex terrain for men and machines, adding to the ubiquitous presence of rocky terrain on tropical African tracks, as well as the famous fetch-fetch, sand with the consistency of flour that is the tiniest to undermine mechanics. Interferes with interstices. Broken suspensions and shock absorbers, repeated punctures, loss of power after too much sand in the engine compartment: the Safari Rally’s woes are well known.

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But some regret that they come to compromise the scene, sometimes turning the rally into a lottery, like Richard Millener, who talks about it on the Dirtfish.com site. “First, I want to emphasize that what I’m about to say has nothing to do with our results.”Alerts M-Sport’s manager. “We’ve been beaten regularly by Toyota, we have to give them that credit. But the reality is the level of fetch-fakes this year is alarming. We have to find a balance with the road, because some of them have had a lot of them.”

Hyundai particularly suffered from the Kenyan fetch-fake, with Neuville losing all hope of fighting for victory at the end of day one, when the Belgian lost power in his i20 N. Same thing next to Oliver Solberg, who found the wheel of the third Hyundai in Africa and cruised to a good sixth place before losing everything due to a stuck air filter in his car on the first special stage on Sunday morning.

Solberg lost his sixth place advantage in the final stage of the Safari Rally due to a clogged air filter on the Fetch-Fetch.

Competition under a sword of Damocles

This very great uncertainty which reigns during the Safari Rally and which sometimes dominates the aspect of pure sport was already realized in 2021, when Thierry Neuville was forced to retire on Sunday morning after dominating the head and shoulders test from Friday. In the evening, Sebastien eventually relinquished the glory to Ogier who had been the target of a technical problem earlier in the rally.

On the contrary, the various retirements that may occur from the first phase of the African event often lead to an early consolidation of the hierarchy, which removes much of the suspense in the final days. Thus, this year the top 5 from Saturday evening was already known, Cale Rovanpera is more than 40″ ahead of his teammate Elfin Evans.

“We really don’t want cars coming into the power stage that are already separated by big gaps.”Millener continued. “What we want is for the rally to be decided on the power stage, and that can only happen if we take a more passable road.

Although he criticizes the difficulty of the Safari Rally route, the English manager admits that the Kenyan event is like no other, and that its place on the WRC calendar is fully justified: “The people, the environment and most of the roads are fantastic. In all honesty, the backdrop for this rally is arguably one of the best in the world. There is no doubt that we need a Safari Rally. [au calendrier]But we have to make sure it’s passable with these cars.”

The next round of the championship will be held in Estonia, from 14 to 17 July and will be the fourth consecutive gravel rally, this time contested on a less rough track and which will thus allow the competition to fully express itself.

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