Champions of the 2024 Safari Rally

By Timothy Albrite

Toyota’s Kalle Rovanpera of Finland and his navigator Jonne Haltunen are the champions in the 2024 edition of the Safari Rally in Kenya.

The grueling rally, which saw many contestants fall by the wayside, was dominated by the Finnish duo, who won the third round of the World Rally Championship series by a margin of one minute and 37.8 seconds ahead of their Toyota Gazoo teammate Takamoto Katsuta of Japan and his Irish navigator Aaron Johnstone.

Frenchman Adrien Fourmaux and his navigator Alexandre Coria finished third, securing Ford’s first podium in 23 years.

Rovanpera was delighted with the victory and praised his team’s preparation and execution, which allowed him to navigate the rocky and treacherous stages around Lake Naivasha with precision and finesse.

The final leg of the rally provided a stunning backdrop for the finish line, which Rovanpera and Haltunen crossed gloriously, greeted by cheers from fans and dignitaries, including Kenyan President William Ruto.

The victory not only secured their status as elite competitors but also reaffirmed Toyota’s dominance in the rally arena.

Takamoto Katsuta’s second-place finish ensured a Toyota GR Yaris one-two finish.

Reflecting on his victory, Rovanpera expressed his elation, emphasizing the significance of winning such a prestigious event. He was thrilled to receive the winner’s trophy from Kenyan President William Ruto at the Hells Gate podium finish and said that victory was not just for him, but for Toyota as well. “We’ve always had a strong presence here, and that tradition continues,” he added.

The 2024 edition of the Safari Rally saw some incredible performances by local drivers, with Carl Tundo and Hamza Anwar emerging as the biggest winners on the local rally scene.

Despite facing numerous hurdles, both drivers showed remarkable resilience and determination to score points in the Kenya National Rally Championship (KNRC) series and the Junior World Rally Championship (JWRC) respectively.

Carl Tundo and Tim Jessop clinched the first position in the KNRC series. The duo had a tough time on Saturday due to punctures, but they refused to give up.

Tundo’s perseverance paid off on Sunday as he finished in 16th place overall and 17th in the Rally 2 category, driving a Ford Fiesta car that added a distinctly Kenyan flavor to the Safari Rally.

Anwar, on the other hand, was Kenya’s only representative in the Rally 3 category, driving a Ford Fiesta. Despite facing multiple mechanical problems, he refused to retire and managed to finish in 22nd position overall.

Overall, the 2024 edition of the Safari Rally was a showcase of grit, determination, and resilience, with drivers and navigators pushing their limits to claim victory.

The local drivers showed that they had what it takes to compete with the best in the world, and their performances were a source of inspiration and pride for fans and supporters across Kenya.

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