Rallying-Rovanpera takes commanding lead in Safari Rally

(Reuters) – Toyota’s double world champion Kalle Rovanpera took a commanding lead in Safari Rally Kenya on Saturday as rivals suffered setbacks.

The Finn, competing only in selected events this season before returning full time in 2025, played safe and kept out of trouble to take an advantage of two minutes and 8.2 seconds into the final day.

Team mates Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta were both slowed by punctures, with the Japanese ending the day in the runner-up spot and M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux in third.

Hyundai’s overall championship leader Thierry Neuville suffered a fuel system problem in the afternoon, after climbing up to second, and dropped to fifth and more than 11 minutes off the pace.

Evans was fourth and more than five and a half minutes adrift of Rovanpera, with the Welsh driver having four punctures in conditions ranging from dry and dusty to mud.

Rovanpera is guaranteed 18 points under the new scoring system, provided he finishes on Sunday.

“The lead is now quite good so of course we took it carefully,” said the Finn, who won the event in 2022 on the way to his first title.

“Tomorrow is still a tough day and we will try to finish the job.”

Sunday’s final leg features two loops of three stages on both sides of Lake Naivasha.

(Reporting by Alan Baldwin in London, editing by Ed Osmond)


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