Safari rally enthusiasts were treated to a fun-filled weekend experience in Naivasha, with 21-year-old Kalle Rovanperä bringing to a close in style after winning his fourth FIA World Rally Championship victory in Naivasha.
Finland’s Kalle Rovanperä conquers Naivasha to win 2022 WRC Safari Rally
2021 champion Sébastien Ogier came in 4th, giving Toyota a clean 1-2-3-4 sweep
The 21-year-old expertly maneuvered the challenging course and gave spectators the best of his skills in the sport during the 2022 edition that ran between June 23 and June 26.
He showed promise during shakedown on Wednesday when he finished ahead of Belgian driver Thierry Neuville in his Hyundai Motorsport by five microseconds through the 5.15km Loldia test, clocking the fastest time.
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.
He revved through the dust, mud and gravel, taking on experienced hands through the 18 competitive stages.
The Finn revved to victory by 52.8sec in a GR Yaris Rally1, followed closely by Elfyn Evans who completed the course 49.9sec clear of Takamoto Katsuta who came in third.
2021 champion, Sébastien Ogier was fourth to give Toyota a clean 1-2-3-4 sweep.
For the young Finn, it was a continuation of family tradition as he conquered the course to achieve what his father Harri Rovanperä narrowly missed in 2002.
At the time , Rovanperä senior narrowly lost to veteran rally driver, the late Colin McRae.
The global showpiece was flagged off by President Uhuru Kenyatta on June 23 at the Kenyatta International Convention Centre (KICC).
From KICC, the cars were driven to Moi International Sports Centre Kasarani for a Super Special Stage before proceeding to Naivasha to battle it out 18 competitive stages.
The President flagged off the first ten rally cars which included Kenyan teams comprising of McRae Kimathi, Maxine Wahome, Jeremy Wahome, Hamza Anwar and the French megastars Sebastian Ogier & Sebastien Loeb who are graced the iconic Kenyan fixture for the second time.
Away from the course, Naivasha was a beehive of activities with fun flowing freely as revelers checked in to what is becoming a tradition of fun and adventure with the return of the Safari rally.