Monday | 27 Jun 2022

Kalle: Safari win is extra-special

Six career victories - and four so far this season. Can anybody stop Kalle Rovanperä?

The Finn steered his way into the FIA World Rally Championship history books yet again on Sunday afternoon thanks to an assured drive on the toughest rally in the calendar. 

And Rovanperä’s Safari Rally Kenya win, he says, is the most special one so far. 

Not only did the result move the 21-year-old 65 points clear in the title race - it also marked Toyota’s first 1-2-3-4 in 29 years. 

The 1993 feat was also achieved in Kenya. That time, Rovanperä’s fellow Finn Juha Kankkunen topped the timesheets in a Celica ST185. 

“This feels good,” Rovanperä told WRC.com. “Of course, this win is a bit more special than the other ones. 

“The Safari is a rally which is very well-known from a long time ago and it’s also always been a really important event for Toyota.

“It feels quite amazing what we have achieved and it’s actually quite funny that Toyota was the team to make it the previous time. To also be the winning car in a result like this - it’s just fantastic. 

“I’m really proud of the team and what they have done in such a short time to prepare for this rally. The car was really strong but also very fast, and we had no issues in such extreme conditions,” he added.

To give Toyota its credit - the GR Yaris car was pretty much faultless. But Rovanperä also had to jump in and drive the thing - which is never an easy task in deep ruts and fesh-fesh sand. 

Saturday was the pivotal day for the youngster. Waterlogged conditions derailed other drivers’ charges, but he thrived and extended his advantage over team-mate Elfyn Evans by 24.5sec. Takamoto Katsuta and Sébastien Ogier completed the Yaris quartet.

The Finn excelled in wet weather on Saturday afternoon

That paved the way for an easier Sunday, with Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen eventually taking the spoils by 52.8sec.

“We started Saturday with quite a normal pace and I was seeing what the other drivers would do,” he explained. 

“Elfyn was pushing me hard and in the afternoon, when the conditions turned tricky, everybody started to have some issues and things. But we just kept driving clean and set some good times. 

“On this kind of rally, you don’t really want to fight with your team-mates. You know how quickly it can go wrong. Thankfully on Sunday we didn’t need to do it, so that was good.”

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