- Toyota dominated the Safari last year
- The team will be led by defending champion Rovanpera
- The Safari rally is set for June
Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team speedsters led by champion Kalle Rovanpera will be the star attractions at this year’s WRC Safari Rally which marks the highlight of the 2023 Kenya Motor Sports Calendar.
The iconic Kenyan leg of the World Rally Championship (WRC) wil return to Naivasha for the third year running on the weekend of June 22-25.
Toyota who recently ran a pre-season winter test of their Yaris Rally 1 in Finland in the presence of Kenya’s RedBull athlete Karan Patel remains unchanged for the 2023 Season.
The new development in the team this season is the promotion of Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta to their otherwise solid main line-up which will witness the return of Elfyn Evans to a full campaign.
Katsuta , who secured his maiden WRC podium in Kenya in 2021, was taken under the wing of Toyota’s WRC Challenge Program for young drivers in 2015 and made his top-flight debut in Germany four years ago.
Ogier part of Gazoo Racing team
The 2021 Safari winner Sebastien Ogier will be part of Gazoo outfit and is likely to take up the reins for the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo (19 – 22 January), an event he has won eight times. He is also expected to grace the Safari in June.
Elfyn will join Kalle as part of Toyota’s Safari lineup as both will compete for the full season for the Japanese manufacturer.
Toyota claimed the top four positions on Safari last year and will be hoping for a repeat performance on Naivasha’s world famous fesh-fesh stages.
The 2023 WRC will feature a new round which takes place across three countries when Austria, Czech Republic and Germany host the Central European Rally from 26 – 29 October. The asphalt rally will be based out of the south-east German city of Passau.
On the national front, KRT club will organize its first Kenya National Rally Championship- (KNRC) even which will be the season closer t on the weekend of December 9-10, 2023.
KNRC 1 will be organized by the Rallye Sports Club (RSC) on the same weekend as Time Trial 1, a tarmac event to be run by Delta Motorsports on the weekend of February 4-5. WRC Safari Rally will also doubling up as KNRC4.
The 4X4 series will feature in the motorsport calendar for the second year running. The series , currently gaining incredible national attention, will start on 11-12 March organized by KRT also on the same weekend as the Karting 1 & 2 double header hosted by RVMSC.
Burundi makes entry into ARC
In another development, ,the FIA African Rally Championship- ARC will revert to its traditional seven-leg format following the inclusion of Burundi into its 2023 schedule. Burundi International Rally will replace Rally of South Africa after a successful candidate event in 2022
South Africa pulled out of the continental series citing financial constraints
Equator Rally -the Kenyan round of the ARC -will be held on the weekend of March 18-19, coinciding with WRC Rally Guanajuato México 2023
The 10- leg Kenya National Karting Championship has adopted a double-header format to feature five race weekends in 2023
Jim Heather-Hayes Momorial Classic Rally had been introduced as a mark of respect for the rally legend who passed on in December.