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Rovanpera takes his second Safari win in Toyota one-two

TOYOTA’S Kalle Rovanpera and co-driver Jonne Halttunen won Safari Rally Kenya with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville stretching his championship lead to six points despite finishing only fifth.

Double world champion Rovanpera, competing in selected events only this season before a full return in 2025, led from Friday and finished one minute and 37.8 seconds clear of team mate Takamoto Katsuta over the rough gravel roads.

M-Sport Ford’s Adrien Fourmaux finished third.

“It’s always special to win here,” Rovanpera, who also won in 2022, said of his 12th career victory and first of the season. “Also, a legendary event for Toyota. We’ve always been so good here and that’s continuing.

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“I don’t think you can have a better Safari Rally than we did. No issues, clever driving and I think it was a good effort.”

Rovanpera had been two minutes and eight seconds clear on Saturday night and was under no pressure, in one of the most demanding races on the rally calendar, through Sunday’s final leg on both sides of Lake Naivasha.

Neuville finished behind Toyota title rival Elfyn Evans, in fourth, but the Belgian won the final Power Stage to take five bonus points and stretch his lead over his Welsh rival after three rounds.

Toyota leads Hyundai by four points in the manufacturers’ championship.

The next round is in Croatia, on asphalt, from April 18-21.

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By The African Mirror

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