Kalle Rovanperä has dropped into preservation mode at the head of Safari Rally Kenya, admitting he has started to “feel a bit sick” – allowing Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans to close up to him.
Rovanperä has led the Safari Rally ever since Friday’s final stage and his gap remains relatively solid at 15.8 seconds over Evans.
But Evans was noticeably quicker on Saturday afternoon’s opener – as much as five seconds up on the splits before Rovanperä brought some time back to drop just 3.6s to Evans who won the stage.
“It’s just quite rough conditions, we try to manage without any issues,” Rovanperä explained. “The pace is really hard to define yourself, you just hope it’s enough.”
But there were other issues for the championship leader too.
“I started to feel a bit sick in the midday service and I’m not feeling so good now,” he revealed, “so we just try to get to the end today.”
Thierry Neuville arrived at the end of the stage without any front bodywork on his Hyundai which did him no favors in his battle against Takamoto Katsuta for third.
Katsuta had some damage at the rear of his own but was far less dramatic and was able to outpace Neuville by 2.8s, extending his overall advantage to 10.2s.
Explaining where his bodywork disappeared, Neuville said: “In the bumpy section I lost all of the bodywork as usual so I had a hell of [a lot of] understeer.”
Sébastien Ogier remains an anonymous fifth place but was a bit mystified as to why his Toyota lacked performance towards the end of SS11
“I had a strange feeling at the end like no power,” Ogier said, “so I’m not sure if it’s alright.”
Craig Breen’s deliberately sedate performance on Safari Rally Kenya continued on Soysambu 2, but it went to the extreme when he turned the engine down to preserve a soft tire.
“This one I’m sure I have a rear puncture now so that’s why we were so slow,” he said, having given up over 1m30s.
“It was a really, really slow puncture going gradually and gradually so then I just switched off the boost for the last three kilometers to stop it going off the bead.”
Breen remains in seventh place, several minutes down on Oliver Solberg who felt rejuvenated after altering the setup of his Hyundai in service.
“I did some changes and it’s night and day compared to before,” he said, “but I need to look after my position.”
The next two stages of the loop could be menacing however as heavy rain has been falling in the region.