Dust wrecks havoc as Rovenpera takes early lead in Naivasha

Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta navigated by Aaron Johnson racing on a Toyota Yaris

Japan’s Takamoto Katsuta navigated by Aaron Johnson racing on a Toyota Yaris cruise through Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

What you need to know:

  • The event is led by leader of the 2022 WRC series Kalle Rovanpera of Finland, also in a Toyota Yaris. The Finn also scored three fastest stage times in the Kedong area in Naivasha.
  • The Hyundai of Thierry Neuville seemed to suffer from dust suffocation which looked like it was blocking the air filters and the turbo charger, thus the car could not move faster in the third stage of the rally.

With two days of the competition remaining, defending World Rally Championship Safari Rally champion Sebastian Ogier is lying sixth in the table after scoring three fastest stages out of the seven sections of the day on Friday driving his Toyota Yarris.

The event is led by leader of the 2022 WRC series Kalle Rovanpera of Finland, also in a Toyota Yaris. The Finn also scored three fastest stage times in the Kedong area in Naivasha.

A rally fan smiles inside dust at Kedong stage in Naivasha

A rally fan smiles inside dust at Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

The Hyundai of Thierry Neuville seemed to suffer from dust suffocation which looked like it was blocking the air filters and the turbo charger, thus the car could not move faster in the third stage of the rally.

"I am struggling like hell. The car is not driveable in these conditions - with the cleaning I have no grip and it doesn't go where I want. The rally is long, so it's not so worrying to lose a few seconds here and there,” Neuville said.

Fergus Gus Greensmith had his Ford stop in stage three with a puncture. The crew lost valuable minutes after they stopped to replace the wheel.

Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja also lost valuable time after the gear lever of the Hyundai got disconnected from its base. Both driver and navigator had to nurse the car to the end of the loop.

Estonia’s Ott Tanak navigated by Martine Jarveoja racing on a Hyundai i20

Estonia’s Ott Tanak navigated by Martine Jarveoja  racing on a Hyundai i20 cruise through Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Former world champion, Sébastien Loeb, who returned to tackle the Safari Rally after missing it out for the last 20 years, was forced to bow out of the rally after his Ford encountered mechanical failure.  He had set one fastest stage time through the Loldia Section.

“I had just corrected a note and the next one was a tricky one, so I had it a bit late and touched a small tree. I have to check, but I don't think it's a big problem," said Loeb.

WRC Rules do allow such drivers to rejoin the rally on the following with penalty in mind.

M-Sport also lost Andrien Fourmaux, thus losing two important cars in the team.

Republic of Ireland's Graig Breen navigated by Paul Nagel racing on a Ford Puma

Republic of Ireland's Graig Breen navigated by Paul Nagel racing on a Ford Puma cruise through Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.


Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Gaurav Gill and Gabriel Morales of India also had an unspecified problem with their Skoda Fabia. The crew was earlier penalised 10 minutes for jumping starting at one of the Time Controls.

The crew is participating in the Kenyan event for the first time though they have contested the Asia Pacific Rally Championship in the past.

Karan Patel is the top-placed local driver among the FIA-registered crews. His Ford Fiesta is lying in the top-20 list of the drivers.

Local drivers Andrew Muiruri and Edward Njoroge lost valuable time after their Subaru Impreza blew its turbo the previous evening. Mechanics had to work hard to replace the equipment as soon as the event started Friday morning.

Maxine Wahome navigated by Murage Waigwa racing on a Ford Fiesta

Maxine Wahome navigated by Murage Waigwa racing on a Ford Fiesta cruise through Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.


Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Former African champion Giancarlo Davite of Burundi had to rejoin the rally after mechanical failure had forced him out of the event earlier on.

Unfortunately, Jeremy Wahome had to also bow out of the action for the day after his Ford Fiesta stopped with mechanical failure.

The following crews were penalised for different reasons. Some checked in early at Time Controls while others were late. They included McRae Kimathi and Nikhil Sachania.

Carl Tundo navigated by Tim Jessop racing on a Mitsubishi Evo

Carl Tundo navigated by Tim Jessop racing on a Mitsubishi Evo cruise through Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Three stages were repeated on Friday through Loldia, Geothermal and Kedong bringing the total distance to 332.64km of which 134.23km was competitive.

Saturday’s competition will be based around Sosyambu, Elementaita and Sleeping Warrior. These three stages will be done twice.

A helicopter patrols the route

A helicopter patrols the route as Republic of Ireland's Graig Breen navigated by Paul Nagel racing on a Ford Puma cruise through Kedong stage in Naivasha during World Rally Championships Safari Rally on June 24, 2022.

Photo credit: Sila Kiplagat | Nation Media Group

Stage two was cancelled for the KNRC group on Friday after an accident involving Minesh Rathod’s MItsubishi Lancer Evo10.

Provisional leaders after Seven Stages:

1. Kalle Rovanpera/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota Yaris) 1:20:58.1

2. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota Yaris) 1:21:20.5

3. Ott Tanak/Martin Jarveoja (Hyundai) 1:25:55.6

4. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota Yaris) 1:21:24.7

5. Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai) 1:2123.4

6. Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota Yaris) 1:23:06.3

7. Oliver Solberg/Elliott EdmonDson (Hyundai) 1:25:25.2

8.    Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford) 1:35:36.3

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