Kenya: WRC Safari Rally Will Be Tougher Than in 2021, Says Rovanperä

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Naivasha — Kalle Rovanperä says that the conditions at this year’s WRC Safari Rally Kenya have changed and will be even more challenging than in 2021.

The 21-year-old Finn ran fastest through Wednesday’s 5.4km Loldia Shakedown Stage which handed spectators the first look of the new generation hybrid-powered Rally1 cars.

“I am looking forward to a great week of Safari. But this year the Safari will be more challenging because the stages look tougher and rougher than last year. So, that will be something we’ll try to do; but I think it will not be so easy.”

“There are rougher parts and it is even smoother in some places. The approach will be to try and avoid the mistakes of last year and a run clean rally this week. I hope to stretch my lead on the Championship log after Safari. The pressure is not so much on me with the championship standings being so good for us,” said Rovanperä.

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Rovanperä edged his nearest title challenger Thierry Neuville by five-tenths of a second through the nerve-racking warm-up which overlooks the picturesque Lake Naivasha.

Sébastien Loeb savored a taste of the Kenya terrain after 20 years and was 1.3sec behind in his M-Sport Ford Puma.

Last year’s Safari winner Sébastien Ogier ran quickest out of the blocks with his GR Yaris Rally1 before team-mate Rovanperä posted the benchmark time on his second pass.

Loeb said: “It seems that this year the rally will be even tougher,” he explained, adding:”I was not expecting such rough conditions like we saw on the recce and the roads are even more soft than last year. I have been reviewing the terrain on the video clips from last year’s event.”