Finnish Kalle Rovanperä survived Friday’s test that served up piles of dust in a Safari Kenya rally that cared little about reputation this time round.
The Finn started the day in seventh position and immediately launched his fight back to the top position. He would later win three of the six stages of the day.
Rovanpera was handed a huge advantage and the lead as well when his teammate Sebastien Ogier suffered a puncture in days final stage. The Young Finn is 22.4seconds ahead of Elfyn Evans going into the third day of the rally.
“For sure, I don’t want to be leading like that after Seb has some issues. But otherwise it was quiet a good day, tricky conditions on the stages and am really happy to be here after the last stage,” said Rovanperä.
“Now the plan is still the same, try to do good job, follow the same pace and try to avoid all issues,” he added.
Sebastien Ogier who led for the most to the day had his efforts shuttered in the brutal Kedong stage pushing him far back in sixth position and more than two minutes behind.
“It will be difficult now to fight for the win but it is still a long way to go. Many things can happen and many things will still happen. Lets see what happens,” said disappointed Ogier.
Elfyn Evans who was leading after the morning loop has ended the day in second making a Toyota 1-2 into the Saturday’s test.
Hyundai’s Ott Tanak who started the day on a bad note ending the morning stage with a broken gear lever would later fight back in the afternoon to finish third.
Takamoto Katsuta’s impressive run was hindered in the last stage when he drove through Craig Breen’s dust losing time and dropping to fourth. Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville was fifth.
Meanwhile, Sebastien Loeb had an early exit from the event and with it ending his dream of a Safari rally victory.
The legend got stuck on the transport section from the first pass through Kedong stage.
“We left the stages very well. But on the transport the engine suddenly stopped. I tried to start it again and it failed. And that was it,” he said.
In WRC2, Kajetan Kajetanowicz in a Skoda Fabia has dominated the category heading into the Saturday. The Polish driver holds a one minute lead.
Kenya’s Maxine Wahome impressively leads the WRC3 category ahead of counter-part McRae Kimathi both in Ford Fiesta Rally3 cars.
Crews will go through six stages for the Saturday’s test in Naivasha.