Safari Rally Kenya: Day 3 TOYOTA GAZOO Racing quartet out front ahead of Safari finale
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing continues to dominate Safari Rally Kenya with one day to go, its four GR YARIS Rally1 cars still going strong in demanding conditions and locking out the top four places on the leaderboard.
Saturday was the longest day of the rally with 150.88 competitive kilometres to be tackled across two passes of three stages close to Lake Elmenteita. Heavy rain made the going extra challenging for the final two stages of the day, creating very slippery conditions with thick mud and standing water. The Toyota quartet however made it through without major issues to hold a dream position heading into the final day, with a gap of over eight minutes back to their nearest competitor in fifth place.
Kalle Rovanperä remained in the lead throughout the day, thanks to a consistent approach over the rocky stages rather than chasing fastest times. However, when the conditions changed he excelled in the muddy finish to Elmenteita 2 – the penultimate test of the day – to take a stage win and he further added to his advantage in Sleeping Warrior 2 to finish the day with a lead of 40.3 seconds.
Elfyn Evans was fastest on both passes of the Soysambu stage that opened the loop to keep himself within 16s of Rovanperä prior to the final two stages, where he lost time because of poor visibility from the mud on his windscreen.
Takamoto Katsuta began the day in second place in his TGR WRT Next Generation entry after stewards corrected his time for SS7 when he was delayed behind another car. Although he lost position to Evans in the morning, he continued to drive well and crucially survived the muddy conditions when his third position was under attack.
After dropping two minutes changing a wheel at the end of Friday, Sébastien Ogier moved up the leaderboard as rival drivers hit problems and recorded his fourth stage win of the rally in the difficult conditions of SS13.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It’s really amazing to have all four cars in the top four positions. It’s been a fantastic day. The conditions have been horrendous, making it very difficult for the drivers. I’m really glad that our drivers could hold their nerve in those challenging conditions, and also that our car has been working so well and been reliable. It’s a fantastic situation for us now but there are still many kilometres to go, so tomorrow is going to be a tough day. We just want to see all four cars get to the end, but you never know what can happen on this event. We just need to do our work as well as we can and keep our fingers crossed.”
Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 1)
“Today I knew I couldn’t catch any positions from speed alone so there was no point in pushing like crazy – I just tried to stay out of trouble and reach the end. This morning the conditions were a bit more controllable than yesterday and I could keep a good rhythm without pushing the car too much, because it was still very rough. Then this afternoon after the rain there were many tricky sections and a lot of rhythm changes. In some places the ruts were full of water and we knew we had to be careful. With the conditions getting better I just tried to get through cleanly. Now it’s only my team-mates in front and I don’t wish them any bad luck, because if we can bring it home like this it’s an amazing result for Toyota.”
Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“I wasn’t giving too much thought to the times of anyone else today, I was mostly just trying to pick my way through the conditions. The morning was quite nice, and a bit more predictable than yesterday in terms of where it was going to be rough, but it was still difficult to judge the speed correctly all of the time. Then in the muddy conditions this afternoon it was pretty difficult, as I had a small issue cleaning the screen. I decided to try and keep the risk down but it’s impossible not to have the odd slide in conditions like that. As a team we’re in a great position but tomorrow will still be challenging with two passes of all the stages, and the second loop especially could be very interesting.”
Kalle Rovanperä (Driver car 69)
“It has been another tough day like we expected. Today the stages were not so soft but with the rocks and ruts it was still hard for the cars. In our position it was not so easy to try to avoid all the stones and bad places but still try to push. The conditions that came in the afternoon were really tricky. It was my first time driving here in the rain because I didn’t experience that last year and it was quite a surprise with no grip at all and so much standing water. I tried to keep it clean and find the grip from somewhere. Tomorrow is much longer than a normal Sunday so there is still a proper day of driving ahead. We need to stay sharp because still anything can happen.”
End of day three (Saturday):
1 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) 2h52m39.7s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +40.3s
3 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +1m25.6s
4 Sébastien Ogier/Benjamin Veillas (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1) +2m38.3s
5 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +10m59.3s
6 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1) +12m19.1s
7 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1) +18.56.1s
8 Jourdan Serderidis/Frédéric Miclotte (Ford Puma Rally1) +25m45.6s
9 Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak (Škoda Fabia Rally2 evo) +27m34.7s
10 Sébastien Loeb/Isabelle Galmiche (Ford Puma Rally1) +33m01.0s
(Results as of 17:30 on Saturday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
A trio of stages south of Lake Naivasha are all run twice to form a challenging final day of 82.7 competitive kilometres, including the new Narasha test and Hell’s Gate, which hosts the rally-ending Power Stage.
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