WRC Safari Rally: Rovanperä roars on day two as Toyota dominates Naivasha

WRC Safari Rally: Rovanperä roars on day two as Toyota dominates Naivasha

Kalle Rovanperä of Toyota Gazoo Racing was on fire on the second day of the WRC Safari Rally, establishing an impressive 56.9-second lead over his competitors.
The Finn, a two-time FIA World Rally Championship winner, along with his co-driver Jonne Halttunen, delivered a flawless performance, securing fastest times across all six of Friday’s challenging gravel speed tests around Lake Naivasha.

Rovanperä’s outstanding performance spearheaded a Toyota GR Yaris 1-2-3, with his teammates Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta clinching second and third positions respectively. The Japanese marque capitalized on a tumultuous afternoon for rival team Hyundai Motorsport, as both Esapekka Lappi and Ott Tänak were forced into retirement due to car failures.
Lappi, initially Rovanperä’s closest contender, suffered a transmission failure in his i20 N car in the first stage after service, while Tänak’s car encountered broken steering following a collision with a rock in the subsequent Geothermal test. Evans and Katsuta capitalized on these setbacks, solidifying Toyota’s podium dominance.
Reflecting on his performance, Rovanperä expressed satisfaction with his results, emphasizing the challenging conditions of the final stage and his focus on preserving the car.
“I have to be happy with that. For sure, on the last one the conditions were quite rough, and I think from every car [the ruts] get a bit deeper in places. I didn’t take any risks and I was going around all the stones to try and keep the car in one piece. I would have loved to go even faster, but at this point this is okay!,” he said.
Championship leader Thierry Neuville faced his share of challenges, including tyre damage in SS3, but managed to maintain competitiveness throughout the day. With a strong afternoon performance, Neuville positioned himself within striking distance of the podium, trailing Katsuta by a mere 6.5 seconds.
M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux and Grégoire Munster showcased commendable performances, securing fifth and sixth positions respectively, amidst the rugged terrains of Safari Rally. Gus Greensmith emerged as a dominant force in WRC2, claiming seventh place overall.
Looking ahead to Saturday, the rally’s longest day, competitors will face six stages totaling 160.96km, with Soysambu stage set to kick off proceedings at 08:01.

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