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WRC Safari Rally: R*pid Rovanpera edges close rival in shakedown spoils

Wednesday, March 27th, 2024 15:49 | By
Part of action during Safari Rally Kenya shakedown. PHOTO/WRC
Part of action during Safari Rally Kenya shakedown. PHOTO/WRC

Reigning WRC champion Kalle Rovanpera saw off his Belgian rival Thierry Neuville by just two-tenths of a second during the Wednesday, March 27, 2024, shakedown.

After crashing early on day one in February in Sweden, Rovanpera is coming to this third round of the FIA World Rally Championship with a point to prove. In his Toyota GR Yaris, the Fin was back on gravel for the first time this season.

According to WRC, initially 0.9s slower than Ott Tanak after his first run of the Loldia warm-up test, Rovanpera clocked the fastest time on his second and penultimate pass and secured the top spot on the leaderboard ahead of Neuville’s Hyundai i20 N.

Esapekka Lappi, driving another Hyundai, ended 0.1s further back in third.

Rovanpera's plan

“This is a rally where you normally don't expect too much before the weekend because you never know what's going to happen.

“That's my plan at the moment. I don't want to expect anything too much, I just want to have a good rally and we will see what happens,” Rovanpera, who maintains a cautious stance given the Safari Rally’s unpredictable nature.

Part of action during Safari Rally Kenya shakedown. PHOTO/WRC
Part of action during Safari Rally Kenya shakedown. PHOTO/WRC

Tanak trailed his teammate Lappi by a 1.3s ahead of fifth-placed Elfyn Evans. The Toyota star sits three points adrift of championship leader Neuville coming into this round.

M-Sport Ford hotshot Adrien Fourmaux recorded the sixth-best time in his Puma and behind him were Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta and Safari debutant Grégoire Munster.

Gus Greensmith outpaced his Toksport team-mate Oliver Solberg by 1.2s, although. Solberg was lucky to escape with just cosmetic damage to the front of his Skoda Fabia RS Rally2 after overshooting a junction and riding up an embankment, but Ciamin was forced to pull over with damaged front suspension on his Hyundai i20 N Rally2.

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