› ORLEN Rally Team’s Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) repeat last season’s category victory and also take top spot in WRC2 Challenger and RC2 classification
› Sharing a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo of Eurosol Racing Team Hungary, Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmonson post fastest time in RC2 class on 17 of the rally’s 19 stages
› Germany’s Armin Kremer/Timo Gottschalk drive a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo of Team Baumschlager Rallye&Racing to WRC Masters Cup win

Naivasha (KEN), 25 June 2023 – They did it again! In a copy of their 2022 success, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak win WRC2 at Safari Rally Kenya, round seven of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship. The Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo crew from Poland made the best of the extremely difficult road conditions on the rain-soaked East African plains and were also fastest of all competitors with RC2 class cars as well as taking top spot of the WRC2 Challenger position. Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson posted the fastest times in RC2 class on all but two stages. But two punctures and related suspension issues left only second position for the Swedish-British crew.

The Naivasha based Safari Rally Kenya lived up to its reputation as the toughest round of the world championship. The sandy, often rock-covered and deeply rutted stages in the Rift Valley are unique for themselves. Heavy rain made life for the crews even more difficult when they had to master deep water crossings and slippery mud-holes at full speed.

Initially, Oliver Solberg and co-driver Elliott Edmondson took the lead in the RC2 class. For the event, the 21-year-old son of former FIA World Rally Champion Petter Solberg had swapped his usual Toksport WRT run Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 for a Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo of Eurosol Racing Team Hungary. To fully concentrate on the secrets of mastering Safari Rally Kenya, he had also chosen not to score points for the WRC2 classification. After six stages, his lead stood at more than two minutes – which were all gone after the next test. “We had a puncture and I took the wrong decision not to change the wheel. That’s not good in Africa,” Solberg admitted when the suspension of his Škoda collapsed and he had to stop for the day. He came back for leg 2, suffered another flat tyre, this time was wise enough to change the wheel mid-stage, and in the end had posted fastest time of all RC2 competitors on 17 of the rally’s 19 stages. With this speed, he overtook all RC2 competitors in front of him but one.

And this was Kajetan Kajetanowicz. Last year’s WRC2 winner in Kenya also had to deal with a puncture (SS 4), but was clever enough to immediately change the wheel. With Oliver Solberg far behind, Kajetanowicz swapped the lead with Grégoire Munster until stage 11. When the Ford driver from Luxembourg stopped with technical issues, Kajetanowicz and navigator Szczepaniak were more than seven minutes ahead of the field.

But then Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson went into full-attack mode. “The only way is flat-out, we never give up,” was Solberg’s strategy. The gap shrunk minute by minute. At the finish line, Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak had saved a 31 seconds lead. “It's an amazing feeling. It was so nice to be here again. It seemed to be easy, but it wasn't,” Kajetan Kajetanowicz commented. With the WRC2 victory, he climbs to fourth position in the category’s overall standings. At the same time winning the WRC2 Challenger classification, he also takes the lead of this category.

Victory in the WRC Masters category went to the German duo of Armin Kremer/Timo Gottschalk. The former FIA Asian-Pacific Rally Champion and his Dakar Rally winning co-driver brought the Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo of team Baumschlager Rallye&Racing home in fifth place of RC2 class.

Next round of the FIA World Rally Championship is Rally Estonia (20-23 July 2023). From the extremely rough and wet East Africa savannah, the WRC2 competitors turn to the smooth and ultra-fast gravel stages of Northern Europe.

Safari Rally Kenya, 22-25 June 2023, Result RC2 class

1 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (POL/POL), Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, +3:57:15.9 hours*
2 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (SWE/GBR), Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, +30.6 seconds
3 Martin Prokop/Zdeněk Jůrka (CZE/CZE), Ford Fiesta Rally2, +11:27.7 minutes
4 Carl Tundo/Tim Jessop (KEN/KEN), Škoda Fabia RS Rally2, +14:22.7 minutes
5 Armin Kremer/Timo Gottschalk (DEU/DEU), Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo, +17:24.9 minutes **
* winners WRC2 and WRC2 Challenger
** winners WRC Masters Cup

Standings WRC2

1. Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën, 77 points
2. Oliver Solberg (SWE), Škoda, 64 points
3. Gus Greensmith (GBR), Škoda, 62 points

Standings WRC2 Challenger

1. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), Škoda, 75 points
2. Nikolay Gryazin (ANA), Škoda, 50 points
3. Marco Bulacia (BOL), Škoda, 50 points

Standings WRC Masters Cup

1. Johannes Keferböck (AUT), Škoda, 58 points
2. Alexander Villanueva (ESP), Škoda, 52 points
3. Zóltán László (HUN), Škoda, 52 points
4. Armin Kremer (DEU), Škoda, 50 points

Number of the rally: 2:41.9
Stage 13 carried the misleading name “Sleeping Warrior”. In fact, the 31.04 kilometres long monster test was one of the rally’s toughest, made even more demanding by heavy rain falls the night before. With an average speed of relatively low 93 kph, Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo crew Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson took a whopping 2:41.9 minutes out of the RC2 class competition on this stage alone.