Rovanpera hails «clever» plan to seal faultless WRC Safari win

Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen delivered a faultless performance to conquer the WRC’s most gruelling event in style.

The two-time world champions, competing in a partial season this year, won seven of the 19 demanding gravel stages but crucially were the only Rally1 pairing to avoid any punctures, accidents or mechanical issues. 

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Rovanpera was able to judge his pace in the tricky conditions that allowed the Finn to build a lead of more than two minutes before opting to back off on Sunday, eventually taking the win by 1m37.8s from Toyota team-mate Takamoto Katsuta.

“It is always special, this event is so tough and also it is a legendary event for Toyota, and we have always been good here and we are still continuing to do that,” said Rovanpera, who chalked up his 12th career WRC win. “Like they say here in Africa: ‘The car in front is always a Toyota’.

“I have to say a big thanks to the team, everyone made a big effort to make the car work so well. I think me and Jonne did a good job, I think you cannot do a better Safari Rally than what we did, we had no issues for the whole weekend, and it was clever driving. I think it was a good effort.

Winner Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Winners Kalle Rovanperä, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

“At this rally, if you finish like this, it is a big relief because you are not fighting with all the drivers all the weekend, you are fighting the conditions.

“We had zero issues on the car and the tyres so I don’t think you can drive more clever at this rally. We were fast, we had the speed, but it was not about that, we had the speed and we used it well.”

The victory was Rovanpera’s and Toyota’s first triumph of the 2024 campaign, maintaining the Japanese brand’s dominance in Kenya, which now stands at four consecutive wins since the event’s return to the WRC in 2021.

“This is our first win of the season, a couple of rounds before have been a bit tough and now we have got victory here in style,” said Toyota team principal Jari-Matti Latvala.

“I must say that Kalle dominated the rally from the beginning, and he had a very clever approach. He didn’t have any issue over the weekend, thanks to the team producing such a good car, but also because of the way he was able to drive.”  

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