GR Yaris Unrelenting Despite Torrid Rally Tracks, Rovanpera Clinches Late Lead On Open Day

The 2022 WRC Safari Rally opening leg on Friday had a dramatic start. As anticipated, the torrid tracks of the Kenyan boonies lead to a series of mishaps across the board. The top spot was a free-for-all affair, frequently changing hands among Toyota Gazoo Racing teammates.
2022 WRC Safari Rally Friday 12 photos
Photo: WRC/Safari Rally Kenya/Ogier/Toyota Gazoo Racing
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On Thursday, Wednesday's favorite, Rovanpera, started on a low note, finishing 11th after an unfortunate tire puncture during the head-to-head super special stage. Teammate and 2021 WRC Safari Rally winner Sebastien Ogier won that stage.

Things took a dramatic turn on Friday morning. After an intense chase down between namesakes Sebastien Loeb and Ogier at the Thursday evening head-to-head super special, Loeb drew first blood plowing through the sweltering heaps of dust on the Friday morning opener, edging Ogier's teammate Elfyn Evans by two-tenths of a second.

Friday mishaps began after Loeb dinged the rear quarters of his M-Sport Ford Puma on a tree. Ott Tanak followed suit, snapping his Hyundai i20 N gear lever. In the afternoon, Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Evan suffered a puncture, offering teammate Ogier another chance at the top spot. The French rally driver led for a majority of the early six stages.

They say, "it's not over until it's done." Well, late in the day, youngest WRC event winner, Kalle Rovanpera, slithered in between the leading trio bagging three stage wins and snatching the top spot after teammate Ogier stopped to change a wheel during the 31.25 km (19.41 mi) Kedong final stage.

After Wednesday's recce, Ogier told WRC he was anticipating a rougher three-day rally. True to his words, the scenic Lake Naivasha side tracks though picturesque was intolerant and unrelentingly punishing to the crews. Despite the mounting pressure, Toyota Gazoo's GR Yaris cars performed pretty well.

Finnish driver Rovanpera begins the Saturday monster leg with a 22.4-second buffer over Toyota Gazoo Racing teammate Evans, whose closely followed by Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT's Ott Tanak at +25.3 seconds.
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About the author: Humphrey Bwayo
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Humphrey is a car enthusiast whose love and passion for automobiles extended into collecting, writing, driving, and working on cars. He got his passion for cars from his Dad, who spent thousands of hours working on his old junky 1970 E20 Toyota Corolla. Years later, he would end up doing the same with a series of lemons he’s owned throughout his adult life.
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