Mon 26 Jun 2023

Rovanpera focused on the big picture

While he wasn’t able to repeat his 2022 Safari Rally Kenya win, Kalle Rovanperä said round seven went to plan – his lead at the top of the Drivers’ Championship building from 25 to 41 points.

After a run of three fourth places earlier in the season, the defending drivers' champion has enjoyed three consecutive podiums in Portugal, Italy and Kenya. Arriving at the start in Naivasha, Rovanperä admitted his series lead would be in his mind throughout the event.

While he looked to be tempted into a final-day fight with team-mate Sébastien Ogier with a stunning stage win on the first run through Malewa – which cut the gap to 8.6sec – the 22-year-old Finn stuck to his plan, finishing the event 6.7s adrift of the eight-time champion.

He said: “The battle with Séb got quite tight at the end, and when you miss out on the win by a small margin like this then it’s not always the best feeling for a driver.

“But at the end we still scored good points for the championship. I stuck to my plan for the whole weekend, driving with quite good pace but not taking huge risks. So to still finish like this is quite nice.

“We didn’t really take any crazy risks and I didn’t have any punctures or any issues with the car to be honest, so the plan was to be quick, and, of course, like always you need to keep the pressure on if there is someone in front or behind, so that was the plan to keep the pressure on a bit and see what happens.

“The final day was really tough for the cars: the penultimate stage especially with a lot of deep sand and ruts. It’s good that our cars were so strong and made it through, because to have the 1-2-3-4 finish for the team again here in Kenya is amazing.”

The championship now moves from the rough roads of Sardinia and Africa to the super-smooth and super-quick stages at Rally Estonia and Rovanperä’s home event, Secto Rally Finland.

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