Dominant Kalle Rovanpera wins Safari Rally Kenya

Sunday, March 31st, 2024 17:00 | By
Kalle Rovanepra and his co-driver by Jonne Halttunen celebrate winning Safari Rally Kenya. PHOTO/WRC
Kalle Rovanepra and his co-driver by Jonne Halttunen celebrate winning Safari Rally Kenya. PHOTO/WRC

Following dominant performances from Friday, March 28, 2024, Kalle Rovanepra has finally emerged as the winner of the Safari Rally Kenya.

The Finn became a two-time winner of Safari Rally Kenya after a challenging African fixture with a 1m 37.8s victory margin.

Rovanpera, who had initially revealed his challenges in balancing speed and maturity, ultimately secured his 12th career victory.

After winning all of Friday’s rock-strewn stages around Lake Naivasha, Rovanepra, who was co-driven, built a lead of almost one minute and kept his nose clean to end Saturday two minutes clear as the chasing pack ran into mechanical troubles and tire damage.

This buffer gave the Finn, a two-time WRC champion, the opportunity to drive for a finish in Sunday’s final leg, which culminated at Hell's Gate.

Meanwhile, Takamoto Katstuta completed a Toyota GR Yaris 1-2 as the Japanese marque extended its manufacturers’ championship lead to four points over Hyundai Motorsport, while M-Sport Ford Puma hotshot Adrien Fourmaux bagged his second consecutive podium, 47.3s behind.

Safari Rally action in Naivasha Kenya. PHOTO/WRC

Thankful Rovanpera

“It’s always special to win here. It was also a legendary event for Toyota. We’ve always been so good here, and that’s continuing. Like they say in Africa, the car in front is always a Toyota!

"A big thanks to the team; everybody made a big effort to make the car work so well. I think me and Jonne did a good job. I don’t think you can have a better Safari Rally than we did. No issues, clever driving, and I think it was a good effort," Rovanpera told WRC.

Elfyn Evans has faced challenges since Friday, when he ended up in contention for a podium, but a fraught Saturday, which saw the Welshman stop twice to carry out stage-side wheel changes, meant he finished over four minutes back from his teammate Rovanpera in fourth overall. He remains second in the drivers’ championship behind leader Thierry Neuville, who trailed him by almost six minutes in fifth.

Neuville, who faced fuel pressure problems that caused him several minutes of suspension on Sunday, led Evans by six points.

Neuville's teammates, Esapekka Lappi and Ott Tanak, faced even more problems. 

Two broken gearboxes over the course of the week were one of the biggest problems that Lappi faced. On the other hand, Tanak saw his car sustain a broken suspension and could only climb back to eighth overall, behind WRC2 runners Gus Greensmith and Oliver Solberg.

The next edition of the World Rally Championship will be held in Zagreb, the capital city of Croatia, between April 18 and 21.

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