Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team continued its 2024 FIA World Rally Championship campaign with a fourth consecutive win of the legendary Safari Rally Kenya. Kalle Rovanperä led Takamoto Katsuta into a one-two finish on this demanding African event, so how does this WRC 2024 result affect the overall championship?

WRC 2024 result: Safari Rally Kenya

Toyota has clinched three consecutive Safari Rally Kenya wins since the event’s return to the WRC in 2021, the last two of which were decisive podium lock-outs. For 2024 the rally was brought forward to coincide with the start of the country’s rainy season.

WRC 2024 result

This prompted the return of snorkel systems – a notable feature of the event in the past – and raised suspension set-ups to enable the cars to breathe and navigate through sections of deep water and soft sand. Pre-event testing is prohibited outside of Europe, so Wednesday’s shakedown provided an important opportunity for the teams to test these vital additions.

WRC 2024 result

The ceremonial start took place in the centre of Nairobi on Thursday afternoon, with crews then driving to the nearby super special. Competition was close around the slippery side-by-side course and all three Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid models completed the route within two seconds of the lead time.

WRC 2024 result

Friday was the first full day and saw the crews take on two anti-clockwise loops around Lake Naivasha, about 100km north-west of the capital. Although the weather remained mainly dry, the rough gravel tracks were a reminder of how punishing the Safari Rally can be. Nevetheless, and despite losing time with a puncture, Kalle Rovanperä (below) rose from third to the rally lead through the morning and then remained dominant through all three of the afternoon stages to secure an impressive 56.9 second advantage. Similarly, both Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta improved their respective pace into the afternoon and concluded the day in second and third respectively.

WRC 2024 result

Saturday brought the toughest conditions so far, with a variety of rocky and sandy tracks as well as sharp rain showers in two loops around Lake Elmenteita. Rovanperä’s healthy lead enabled the Finn to take a more careful approach to the day’s challenges, although by carefully threading the Yaris around obstacles he still won the morning pass of the long Sleeping Warrior stage by almost 25 seconds.

Many competitors, including team-mates Evans and Katsuta, who needed to maintain a fast pace to try and improve their positions struggled with punctures in the morning stages. The afternoon’s loop was less fraught, especially for Katsuta, while Evans fought back with the fastest time in the penultimate test only to lose two minutes with a third puncture just a couple of kilometres from the end.

With his lead above two minutes, Rovanperä (above) was able to maintain his safety-first approach to the final day’s six stages, which led to the Finn ultimately sealing the win by almost 100 seconds. This achievement represented our fourth consecutive win of this gruelling event and extended Toyota’s all-time Safari Rally record to 12 victories.

Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston similarly drove a well-measured final day to finish in second place – the Japanese driver’s third podium result from four starts in Kenya. Meanwhile, Evans gave his all to score as many points as possible on Sunday in an attempt to make up for his triple-whammy of punctures the previous day. A podium finish was out of reach but by achieving the third-fastest overall time and fifth on the rally-ending Power Stage Evans ensured that all three Toyotas finished in the top four.

Toyota’s one-two finish garnered maximum manufacturers’ points, while an extra eleven points on Sunday moved the team into a four-point lead in the championship. Evans secured a total of 16 points from the weekend to keep him second in the drivers’ standings.

WRC 2024 result in Round 3: Safari Rally Kenya

1 Toyota Gazoo Racing Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen
2  Toyota Gazoo Racing  Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron Johnston  + 1m 37.8s 
M-Sport Ford  Adrien Fourmaux / Alexandre Coria  + 2m 25.1s 
4  Toyota Gazoo Racing  Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin  + 4m 20.2s 
Hyundai Motorsport  Thierry Neuville / Martijn Wydaeghe  + 10m 17.5s 
WRC 2024 result

WRC 2024 championship standings: drivers and co-drivers

Hyundai Motorsport  Thierry Neuville / Martijn Wydaeghe  67 
2  Toyota Gazoo Racing  Elfyn Evans / Scott Martin 61 
M-Sport Ford  Adrien Fourmaux / Alexandre Coria  46 
4 Hyundai Motorsport Ott Tänak / Martin Järveoja 33
5  Toyota Gazoo Racing  Kalle Rovanperä / Jonne Halttunen  31 
6  Toyota Gazoo Racing  Takamoto Katsuta / Aaron Johnston 30 
7  Toyota Gazoo Racing  Sébastien Ogier / Vincent Landais 24 
Hyundai Motorsport  Esapekka Lappi / Janne Ferm  23 

Where is the WRC heading next?

Round four sees the WRC juggernaut return to Europe for the Croatia Rally, which takes place on 18-21 April. This event is held on challenging asphalt roads around the country’s capital Zagreb, which have been chosen to provide a mix of fast and more technical sections with multiple surface and grip changes.

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