Kenya: Rovanpera leads Safari rally despite Evans’ setbacks

Kalle Rovanpera showcased his prowess behind the wheel, maintaining his commanding lead in the Safari Rally Kenya, while his teammate Elfyn Evans encountered a string of setbacks on Saturday.

As the dust settled over the unforgiving tracks, Rovanpera’s Toyota soared ahead, with the Finnish sensation deftly navigating the challenging course, solidifying his grip on the rally.

Despite Evans’ impressive performance overnight, fortune took a turn for the worse as the Welsh driver grappled with three punctures throughout the day, relegating him from second to fourth position, over three and a half minutes adrift from Rovanpera’s lead.

With a steely resolve, the 23-year-old Finn heads into Sunday’s closing stages with a comfortable 2-minute and 17.7-second advantage over his closest Toyota contender, Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta.

Reflecting on his performance, Rovanpera acknowledged the cautious approach necessitated by his substantial lead, stating, “The lead is now quite good, so of course we took it carefully.” However, he admitted the challenge of maintaining focus amidst the daunting terrain, expressing, “It’s not so enjoyable when you have a big lead and in a stage like (Sleeping Warrior) you just go around every rock, it’s scary. Tomorrow is still a tough day and we will try to finish the job.”

Rovanpera’s stellar performance on Friday, where he dominated six stages, set the stage for his continued success, with only one additional stage victory on the penultimate day further solidifying his position at the forefront of the rally.

Despite Evans’ early promise, his hopes were dashed by the unfortunate succession of punctures, leaving him frustrated and trailing behind his teammate.

Meanwhile, Hyundai’s championship leader Thierry Neuville faced his own share of challenges, briefly ascending to second place before encountering a mechanical issue that saw him plummet to fifth, over 11 minutes off the pace.

As the rally inches towards its conclusion, Rovanpera remains firmly in the driver’s seat, poised to claim his first victory of the season, having opted out of certain rallies on the 2024 calendar. With the finish line in sight, anticipation mounts as fans await the thrilling conclusion of the Safari Rally Kenya.

Standings as of Saturday:

Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/Toyota) 2hr 28min 22.4sec
Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (JPN-IRL/ Toyota) at 2:17.7
Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (FRA/M-Sport Ford) 2:52.4
Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota) 3:35.1
Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai) 11:07.5
Main Retirements:

Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (FIN/Hyundai)
Ott Tänak/Martin Jarveoja (EST/Hyundai)
Special Stage Winners:

Kalle Rovanpera (SS2, SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6, SS7, SS10)
Thierry Neuville (SS1, SS9)
Takamoto Tatsuta (SS8, SS11)
Elfyn Evans (SS12)
Ott Tanak (SS13)

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *