Sat 30 Mar 2024

SATURDAY MIDDAY: Rovanperä faces balancing act on legendary Safari

Kalle Rovanperä is tackling a tightrope of speed and caution at Safari Rally Kenya. He led the event comfortably after Saturday morning but his Toyota team-mates fell afoul of the brutal conditions.

The Finn headed a trio of a Toyota GR Yaris cars by almost one minute coming into this penultimate leg, with his team-mates Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta starting the day in podium position.

That dynamic had flipped by the time crews returned for lunchtime service in Naivasha after Evans punctured in Soysambu and Sleeping Warrior and Katsuta faced similar troubles in the latter. The pair slipped to fifth and third respectively, elevating Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville to second overall.

Unfazed out front and with his lead stretched to 1m 27.9s over Neuville, Rovanperä conceded that striking a safe balance between speed and caution was no easy task.

“It’s not easy with the big gap,” he revealed. “You don’t want to be too flow, but you also don’t want to take too many risks.”

Neuville was on a comeback drive after facing tyre troubles himself on Friday, and a heavy bump towards the end of the rain-dotted Sleeping Warrior was the Belgian’s only real complaint.

The same couldn’t be said for his i20 N colleagues Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi, who both restarted after retiring on Friday. Tänak pull over in SS8 to secure a loose bonnet pin and intercom failure meant he relied on hand signals from co-driver Martin Järveoja in the following test. Lappi, meanwhile, sustained two damaged tyres.

A frustrated Katsuta completed the podium 55.0s behind Neuville while M-Sport Ford youngster Adrien Fourmaux climbed to fourth in his Puma, 27.7s behind. Grégoire Munster retired his similar car with broken rear suspension after SS8.

Sixth-placed Gus Greensmith continued his stronghold on the WRC2 category ahead of his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 rival Oliver Solberg while Jourdan Serderidis, Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Nicolas Ciamin rounded out the top 10.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM