SAFARI RALLY

Exciting line-up confirmed ahead of Naivasha Safari Rally

34 top tier Rally 1, WRC 2 and WRC 3 drivers are set to take part in the rally

TOPSHOT - French driver Sebastien Ogier (R) and French co-driver Julien Ingrassia (L) celebrate on the podium after winning the 2021 Safari Rally Kenya near Hells Gate at Lake Naivasha, Kenya, on June 27, 2021.  (Photo by TONY KARUMBA/AFP via Getty Images)

With only 13 days to go to the start of the Safari Rally, World Rally Championship (WRC) has released the official list of top-tier Rally 1 drivers as well as the WRC 2 and WRC 3 set to take part in one of if not the most difficult rally.

A total of 12 top-tier drivers will line up in their respective Rally 1 cars. Current championship leader Finnish driver Kalle Rovanperä is on a mission to improve his results from last year's rally.

At the 2021 competition in Naivasha, Rovanperä finished sixth on the grid at a time of 3:29:04.7, a gargantuan ten seconds from winner Frenchman Sébastien Ogier. Ogier is set to once again feature in Naivasha.

Ogier, an eight-time FIA World Rally champion currently ranks 10th on the Championship standings with 19 points, 101 points behind leader Rovanperä. Also on the list is Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta, who finished behind Ogier last year.

On the standings, Katsuta is currently fifth, 73 points behind leader Rovanperä. Rivalry between Katsuta and Belgian driver Thierry Neuville is set to continue for another season with the former set to line-up in a Toyota Yaris with the latter driving a Hyundai i20 Coupe.

Rally Italia Sardegna winner and Estonian driver Ott Tänak will be aiming to reduce the gap between him and second placed Neuville in the Championship standings. Tänak will also be on a mission to propel his Hyundai team who for the most part of the season have been playing catch-up.

Rally fans will also get a chance to see legend Sébastien Loeb once again. Loeb retired from full-time WRC participation at the end of 2012. However, he currently drives part-time in the WRC for M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.

The 48-year-old who missed out on last year's Safari Rally is the only driver on the grid to have participated in the Safari Rally before last year.

Loeb will be joined by four other M-Sport Ford drivers; Craig Breen, Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux in a fleet of hybrid-powered Puma Rally1 machines, while Greek driver Jourdan Serderidis will also pilot an additional car.

Aside from the 12 top-tier drivers, Naivasha will play host to 10 cars in the WRC 2 premier support category. WRC 3 cars are also well-represented, with five Rally 3-specification cars featured.

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