Nairobi News


Kalle Rovanperä maintains commanding lead as Safari Rally nears finale

Kalle Rovanperä surged ahead in the FIA World Rally Championship’s Safari Rally Kenya, steering clear of trouble on Saturday’s challenging terrain to extend his lead and edge closer to a potential victory.

Amidst an eventful day marked by varying conditions, ranging from dry and dusty to wet and muddy, Rovanperä maintained a steady pace, widening his lead to an impressive 2 minutes and 8.2 seconds. His cautious yet consistent approach proved pivotal as several competitors, including Thierry Neuville, Elfyn Evans, and Takamoto Katsuta, encountered significant setbacks.

Having dominated the stages on the previous day, Rovanperä opted for a more conservative strategy on Saturday’s routes near Lake Elmenteita, situated south of the rally’s Naivasha base. While initially leading his Toyota GR Yaris teammates Evans and Katsuta, both fell behind after sustaining punctures in the morning stages.

Neuville emerged as Rovanperä’s closest challenger, only to face a fuel system issue in his Hyundai i20 N during the afternoon’s first stage at Soysambu, causing him to drop down the order. This setback allowed Katsuta to reclaim the runner-up spot ahead of M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux.

Reflecting on his performance, Rovanperä commented, “The lead is now quite good, so of course we took it carefully. Tomorrow is still a tough day, and we will try to finish the job.”

Despite a front-left tyre delamination in the final stage, Fourmaux maintained his position, poised to secure another top-three finish following his recent podium in Sweden. Evans, who encountered multiple punctures, trailed Fourmaux by over two minutes.

A disappointed Neuville completed the top five, more than 11 minutes adrift of the lead, with WRC2 leaders Gus Greensmith and Oliver Solberg following closely behind.

As the rally enters its final day, Sunday’s finale will feature three stages, each run twice, covering both sides of Lake Naivasha. Rovanperä remains focused on maintaining his lead as he eyes victory in the iconic Safari Rally Kenya.

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