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Sun 26 Jun 2022

Safari success propels Kajto into WRC2 lead

Kajetan Kajetanowicz scored a career-best result to win WRC2 at Safari Rally Kenya on Sunday and move top of the championship standings.

“It’s an unbelievable day,” he smiled. “This is like a dream and I don’t want to wake up. I think we won the hardest rally in the WRC and it was always in my dreams to start here. We are leading the championship and maybe that’s a surprise for me.”

This victory in the championship’s premier support category adds to his WRC2 success in Turkey in 2019, when the series formed the sport’s third tier.

Second place for Sean Johnston was also a career-best result. The American overcame sickness as well as brake and engine problems in his Citroën C3 Rally2.

The Pole, competing in Africa for the first time, led from start to finish of the gruelling four-day fixture in a Škoda Fabia Rally2.

Kajetanowicz won by the massive margin of 19min 08.2sec and topped off a perfect weekend by scoring maximum bonus points in the rally-closing Wolf Power Stage. He leapt from fifth in the standings to lead by five points after six of 13 rounds.

The three-time European champion steered clear of major problems on rocky and muddy tracks in the Great Rift Valley around Lakes Naivasha and Elmenteita. His lead grew to huge proportions as his rivals struggled to match his pace and the conditions.

Kajetanowicz started Sunday’s third and final leg with an advantage of more than 20min and could afford to measure his pace through the closing six speed tests.

“I’m feeling much, much better today,” he said. “The car was back to full power and I was back to 85 per cent, as opposed to the 20 yesterday. I’m really proud. To be here at the end is a huge achievement. It was a massive crazy adventure and we absolutely loved it.”

Amaanraj Singh Rai completed the podium in another Fabia. The Kenyan was a further 10min 05.7sec back with Aakif Varani fourth, and the final finisher, also in a Škoda.

Karan Patel did not start the final leg after being disqualified from fifth on Saturday night after his team removed technical seals from the gearbox and rear differential housings of his Ford Fiesta.

Video: WRC2 second leg highlights
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