Current World Rally Championship (WRC) leader Kalle Rovanperä, set the fastest time on Wednesday, June 22 during the Safari Rally shakedown as drivers took their first opportunity to sample the classic African roads at competitive pace.
Rovanperä fastest at Safari shakedown
Kenyans get a chance to see the hybrid cars for the first time
Rovanperä finished ahead of Belgian driver Thierry Neuville in his Hyundai Motorsport by five microseconds through the 5.15km Loldia test, overlooking the beautiful Lake Naivasha. Nine time World Champion Sebastien Loeb came third, a whole second in his M-Sport Ford.
Speaking after the Shakedown, Rovanperä who this season has had three wins from three different surfaces predicted that the Safari Rally will be tougher this year as compared to last year.
"It seems that this years rally is even tougher than last year! I was not expecting to see as rough conditions that we saw in recce - this years it seems to be way more soft. Gonna be demanding conditions for sure," said Rovanperä.
Shakedown was an indicator of the tough and challenging roads that competitors will have to face from Friday, June 24 to Sunday, June 26 at the sixth and toughest round of the series.
Takamoto Katsuta co-driver Aaron Johnston expressed similar concerns after completing the shakedown where they finished sixth.
"The dust made visibility very difficult and the stages are going to be a severe test on our TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally1 Yaris this weekend. But we're looking forward to facing those challenges and tackling them head on throughout the weekend, said Johnston.
On Thursday, June 23, the cars will be officially flagged off from the start at the Kenyatta Conference Centre (KICC) in the presence of the President Uhuru Kenyatta and Sports Cabinet Secretary Dr. Amina Mohammed.
At 2:08pm, Kenyans will officially get a chance to absorb the action at a super special stage of 4.84km at Kasarani, before the cars return to the service park on the shores of nearby Lake Naivasha.