Since making its debut back in December, the Ford Puma Hybrid Rally1 enjoyed some tremendous success right off the bat as rally legend Sebastian Loeb piloted the car to victory in Monte Carlo in its very first race, not terribly long after he had driven the car for the very first time. Loeb – who is driving the Puma Rally1 part-time for M-Sport – then took a little time off before returning for the Portugal race last month, where the team set a new record and Loeb earned a stage win and charged his way to first place from seventh before an unfortunate accident forced him to retire. Now, Sebastian Loeb will look to redeem himself at the upcoming Safari Rally Kenya next month.
The nine-time world champion will look to earn his second win of the season in its sixth outing and his third personal appearance, and will once again be joined by co-driver Isabelle Galmiche, who assisted in his victory in Monte Carlo and sat with him in Portugal. Loeb has raced in Kenya just once in his illustrious career, a full 20 years ago, when he notched a fifth place overall finish while claiming three stage wins.
In all fairness, the World Rally Championship returned to Kenya just last year following a 19 year absence, so it’s not like the semi-retired Loeb has had much of a chance to race there. Regardless, the famous gravel-based event takes place on a variety of terrain around Lake Naivasha and through nearby wooded areas, with plenty of water crossings and even wildlife to watch out for along the way, and it’s something that Loeb is clearly looking forward to.
“Kenya is quite amazing; I think it’s the rally from where I have the most memories!” Loeb said. “At that time Kenya was very different, the longest stage was 120km long and we all had a helicopter over our cars announcing all the wildlife that we were approaching on the stage. Now it is very different and is more like a typical WRC rally, it is easier to do it this way but the difference for me compared to Portugal is I have no experience of these stages. It is always much more complicated when you arrive to a rally where you have never done the stages before, it will not make it easy but I am really happy to be going.”