Words by Elias Makori Photos by Redbull
Series leader Kalle Rovanpera has taken the overnight lead on Day Two of WRC Safari Rally after longtime leader Sebastien Ogier failed to master the repeat run of the 31-kilometre fesh fesh section in Naivasha.
Kalle had his run campaign effectively sewn up when Ogier punctured on the second pass of Kedong speed test.
The Finn racked up his third stage win of the day at Kedong 2 where Ogier returned 8th fastest behind the wheel of a GR Yaris Rally1.
Kalle wrapped up his day with a 22.4 seconds advantage over Elfyn Evans while Ott Tanak settled for third, 25.3 seconds behind the leader.
Kalle was all smiles: “it is such a good day in the office. The first two stages weren’t that bad, Ireally enjoyed that bit of the route. But the closing Kedong test was really tough. Luckily, we didn’t make any mistakes there. The most important thing for now is that the car is here and
we are here, so I’m happy.”
Following a sublime drive in Thursday’s Kasarani Super Special, Ogier claimed the day’s opening stage on Loldia 1.
But he lost the lead to his Toyota teammate Elfyn when he timed fourth fastest on the first pass Geothermal.
The eight-times champion (Ogier) regained his lead on Loldia2 where he beat Takamoto Katsuta by a 4.6-seconds to win the stage.
On a sad note earlier in the morning, Ogier’s namesake Sebastien Loeb became the event’s first casualty following engine gremlins on his Puma Rally1.
Loeb retired on the transport road section after Kedong 1 and will incur a 10-minute penalty per every stage missed on loop two should his M-Sport mechanics manage to fix the damage well in time for tomorrow.
“It’s game over for today. Tomorrow, we are not really sure if we can repair and restart the
“But we will decide what to do later today after we see what we have broken in the car.”
“I finished the stage but the car stopped just 5kms from the end of the section as we were headed for the first service,” Loeb said.
After a fifth overall position in 2002, Loeb has definitely put his maiden Safari aspirations in huge jeopardy.
What this means is that he has no realistic chance of catching up with the frontrunners when penalty dynamics play out.
Loeb had just cleared the 31km Kedong Stage when smoke was seen from beneath the hood and was forced to stop at the side of the road.
Top results at the WRC Safari Rally Friday after 7 of 19 stages:
- Kalle Rovanperä (Toyota) 1:20:58.1
- Elfyn Evans (Toyota) +22.4
- Ott Tänak (Hyundai) +25.3
- Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota)+26.6
- Thierry Neuville (Hyundai I20) +57.5
- Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) +2:08.2
- Oliver Solberg (Hyundai) +4:27.1
- Kajetan Kajetanowicz +9:51.1
- Craig Breen (Ford) +10:24.6
- Sean Johnston +11:04.6