Rovanpera: Safari Rally win the "hardest" of my WRC career

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera labelled his latest World Rally Championship victory at Safari Rally Kenya as the “hardest" of his career to date.

Rovanpera: Safari Rally win the "hardest" of my WRC career

The 21-year-old produced an almost perfect drive in arguably the toughest stages the WRC encounters across its 13-round championship.

Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen completed the 19 stages with a 52.8s margin over team-mate Elfyn Evans, while Toyota locked out the top four positions, with Takamoto Katsuta third and Sebastien Ogier fourth.

A fourth win from six rounds came despite starting first on the notoriously difficult roads that feature sections of deep fesh-fesh sand that require careful navigation.

“I have to say, this was the hardest rally I have ever done and to be honest we just have to thank the team,” said Rovanpera.

“Of course it [the win] is quite important because it is a special event. You know, if you manage to win it, it is quite nice and for Toyota it has been an important race.

“I think it is the toughest because of how much you have to concentrate and manage the car to keep it moving over the fesh-fesh sand, there are so many situations where normally you don’t need to take care.

“Normally all you have to worry about is driving fast, but here you have to manage to get through.”

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 with the team

Kalle Rovanpera, Jonne Halttunen, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 with the team

Photo by: Toyota Racing

The victory arrived despite Rovanpera feeling unwell on Saturday morning, just hours before stamping his authority on the event by mastering wet and muddy conditions after a sudden downpour.

“I don’t know [what happened] but midday yesterday I had a feeling where I had no energy," he added. "I heard that quite a few people in the service park had the same and sometimes when you come to a country like this, you can have some issues, but it was good that I felt a bit better today.”

While Rovanpera moved into a commanding 65-point championship lead over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville, the result marked the first time Toyota scored a 1-2-3-4 in WRC since the 1993 Safari Rally.

After failing to land a podium in the previous round in Sardinia, Toyota WRC boss Jari-Matti Latvala was extremely proud of the work his team put in, especially after an engine scare following Wednesday’s shakedown.

“It was 29 years ago the last time [Toyota scored a 1-2-3-4] in Safari so if that happens after every 30 years it is a very rare situation. For sure, I can be really proud of the team and the drivers, the work they have done is really amazing,” said Latvala.

“The drivers were driving exactly the way this kind of rally need to be driven. It is not the fastest but the smartest way.

“I think it is just the work that we have done. I can tell you after shakedown the drivers came back and had a feeling that the engines were quite hot and we were a little bit scared after the shakedown, but all the work the team did paid off.

“It is not a matter of luck but a matter of how well you prepare.”

shares
comments

Related video

Wahome makes history as first female WRC3 winner at Safari Rally
Previous article

Wahome makes history as first female WRC3 winner at Safari Rally

Next article

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally

How Rovanpera tamed a wild Safari Rally
How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy Plus

How team orders could make Hyundai's historic Acropolis Rally a Greek tragedy

Thierry Neuville led a maiden Hyundai 1-2-3 in the World Rally Championship, as the previously soft i20 N became a battle-hardened Greek warrior at the Acropolis Rally. But with team orders in play between the winner and Hyundai’s title protagonist Ott Tanak, could the result come back to haunt the team?

WRC
Sep 12, 2022
How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders Plus

How Tanak triumphed amid a series of Belgium WRC blunders

After runaway World Rally Championship leader Kalle Rovanpera made his first major mistake of the season, the chance to take advantage was wide open for the chasing pack. Several of his rivals faltered to grasp the opportunity, but Ott Tanak made no such mistake and demonstrated his class with a third win of the campaign

WRC
Aug 22, 2022
Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life Plus

Inside Toyota’s new WRC dream factory where rally conquerers come to life

Toyota locked out the top four places in the World Rally Championship's recent Safari Rally Kenya in a clear indication of its GR Yaris Rally1 hybrid's pace and durability. Autosport was recently given a tour of the new factory where its cars are designed, tested and built, and it reveals much about the commitment of the Japanese marque to continued WRC success

WRC
Aug 19, 2022
How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession Plus

How Rovanpera has reignited Finland's rallying obsession

Finland may have a small population, but it has long enjoyed rallying success. Now that the nation has a new star to cheer in the form of Kalle Rovanpera, interest in the discipline is surging once again

WRC
Aug 10, 2022
How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming Plus

How Tanak spoiled Rovanpera’s Finnish homecoming

Kalle Rovanpera and Toyota went into Rally Finland as overwhelming favourites but came away as runners-up to a resurgent Ott Tanak and Hyundai. While it may have dampened the homecoming party, it still moved the Finn closer to the ultimate World Rally Championship prize

WRC
Aug 8, 2022
Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home Plus

Inside Hyundai’s F1-spec mobile WRC home

Hyundai is one of the World Rally Championship's big three, and has a brand-new travelling facility befitting of that status. The team invited Autosport for a behind-the-scenes look at its state-of-the-art HQ, which comes complete with all the bells and whistles you'd expect of a top Formula 1 outfit

WRC
Jul 27, 2022
How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped Plus

How Rovanpera's latest Estonia masterclass left his WRC rivals stumped

After trailing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans for much of Rally Estonia's opening day, WRC points leader Kalle Rovanpera took advantage of a change in the weather and never looked back afterwards. Winning for a fifth time this year at the scene of his 2021 breakthrough, and with a breathtaking powerstage bonus for good measure, his advantage is already looking difficult to topple

WRC
Jul 18, 2022
How the WRC captures its stunning visuals Plus

How the WRC captures its stunning visuals

Whether it’s the mountains of Monte Carlo, the snow of Sweden or the Kenya Savannah, the World Rally Championship is able to beam some of motorsport’s most spectacular footage to television screens while operating in the harshest of environments. Autosport went behind the scenes to unearth the secrets that make this logistical challenge possible

WRC
Jul 7, 2022