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Rovanpera seals 'special' Safari Rally in a Toyota 1-2

Spectators watching the closing stages of the Safari Rally (LUIS TATO)
Spectators watching the closing stages of the Safari Rally (LUIS TATO)

Double world champion Kalle Rovanpera avoided any late trouble to wrap up a comfortable win in the Safari Rally Kenya on Sunday.

The 23-year-old Toyota driver had stamped his authority on the punishing third rally of the season from the start.

Cleaning up in all six stages around Lake Naivasha on Friday allowed Rovanpera to take his foot off the gas over the weekend and coast to a second success in the event.

He led home a Toyota 1-2 with teammate Takamoto Katsuta second at 1min 38sec. Ford's Adrien Fourmaux completed the podium in Nairobi.

"It’s always special to win here," Rovanpera, who failed to finish in Sweden last time out, said.

"Also, a legendary event for Toyota. We've always been so good here and that's continuing. Like they say in Africa: the car in front is always a Toyota!" he added.

Hyundai's Thierry Neuville had a taxing time with mechanical issues but sealed the closing power stage and its extra five points.

The Belgian maintained his lead in the world championship over Toyota's Elfyn Evans, fourth in Kenya.

Rovanpera, who is only competing part-time this campaign to recharge his batteries for a return full-time in 2025, is placed fifth.

He is expected to sit out the fourth rally of the season in Croatia from April 18-21.

Safari Rally Kenya results

1. Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/Toyota) 3hr 36min 04.0sec, 2. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (JPN-IRL/Toyota) at 1min 37.8sec, 3. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (FRA/M-Sport Ford) 2:25.1, 4. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota) 4:20.2, 5. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai) 10:17.5

Special stage winners

Kalle Rovanperä (SS2, SS3, SS4, SS5, SS6, SS7, SS10), Thierry Neuville (SS1, SS9, SS14, SS17), Elfyn Evans (SS12, SS15, SS16), Takamoto Katsuta (SS8, SS11), Ott Tanak (SS13, SS18

Power Stage

1. Thierry Neuville (5 points), 2. Ott Tanak (4), 3. Esapekka Lappi (3), 4. Kalle Rovanpera (2), 5. Elfyn Evans (1)

World championship standings

Drivers

1. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL/Hyundai) 67 points, 2. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (GBR/Toyota) 61,3. Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (FRA/M-Sport Ford) 46, 4. Ott Tanak/Martin Järveoja (EST/Hyundai) 33, 5. Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (FIN/Toyota) 31

Teams

1. Toyota 131 points, 2. Hyundai 127, 3. M-Sport/Ford 72

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