Rovanperä au-dessus du lot, Lappi et Tänak abandonnent

Rovanperä au-dessus du lot, Lappi et Tänak abandonnent

Kalle Rovanperä concluded his day in Kenya with a sixth special victory, and finds himself more than ever at the head of the rally, especially since his two pursuers, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi, had to abandon.

He was not always satisfied with the behavior of his car throughout this first day of the Kenya rally, but the fact remains that Kalle Rovanperä could hardly have had a better Friday. The Toyota driver won the six stages on the program, saw his two main rivals retire, and here he is in the lead with a comfortable lead of 57 seconds before the twelve stages of the weekend.

Leading with 15 seconds ahead of Esapekka Lappi and 17 seconds ahead of Ott Tänak at midday, the Finn saw his compatriot retire during the first special of the afternoon due to a mechanical problem, then the Estonian retires during the following special after hitting a rock. Kept informed of the misfortunes of his competitors, Rovanperä did not take any unnecessary risks, particularly during SS7 which took place in the rain.

Towards a Toyota triple?

It was his teammate Elfyn Evans, fifth at midday, who found himself second, after having had an uneventful afternoon, and overtaking another Toyota driver, Takamoto Katsuta, for a few seconds in SS7. The Japanese team therefore occupies the first three places in the standings, but Thierry Neuville, who was forced to open the road as championship leader and who suffered a big scare in SS6 (“on a bump, I completely lost the steering wheel.

By the time I caught up with him, we had fallen into a ditch on two wheels – luckily we escaped! “), has not said his last word. He can still get on the podium on Sunday, even if victory seems unthinkable, barring an accident or mechanical problem for Rovanperä. Behind the Belgian, we find Adrien Fourmaux, who takes advantage of the misfortunes of others to enter the Top 5, 1’46 behind the leader. The Ford M-Sport driver made no mistake, although he admitted to having difficulty keeping the line on the descents. Six specials will be on the program on Saturday, and six on Sunday.

Ranking at the end of SS7 (out of 19) – Friday March 29, 2024
1- Kalle Rovanperä – Jonne Halttunen (FIN-FIN/Toyota) en 1h16’22″6
2- Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin (GBR-GBR/Toyota) à 56″9
Takamoto Katsuta – Aaron Johnstone (JAP-IRL/Toyota) à 1’00″8
4- Thierry Neuville – Martijn Wydaeghe (BEL-BEL/Hyundai) à 1’07″3
5- Adrien Fourmaux – Alexandre Coria (FRA-FRA/Ford M-Sport) at 1’46″6

Special stage winners
Neuville : 1 (ES1)
Rovanperä: 6 (ES2, ES3, ES4, ES5, ES6, ES7)

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