Tänak punctures, Ogier clings on to Safari lead

Ogier's lead has been reduced as the 2019 world champion dropped over two minutes


Sébastien Ogier clung onto his Safari Rally Kenya lead despite an awesome stage time from Kalle Rovanperä, as Ott Tänak picked up a puncture on Friday morning’s final stage.

Ogier took the lead from overnight leader Tänak on the first stage of Friday, and pushed his advantage into double figures after stage three of the rally.

But his Toyota team-mate Rovanperä – the only Rally1 driver along with Ogier to have won this rally – hit back on Kedong, beating Ogier by a strong 9.4 seconds to close to just 2.5s behind.

“It was a proper cleaning morning but I think we did a good job, no mistakes, all the time I was happy with the driving,” said the world champion.

Ogier had looked set to lose the lead to Rovanperä, 11.4s down at final split, but recovered a couple of seconds come stage-end.

It was a surprising amount of time for the eight-time world champion to lose, but he had a reason.

“I have no hybrid the whole stage, so it doesn’t help,” he said, thinly.

However, Ogier’s troubles were nothing compared to fellow world champion Tänak.


Near the beginning of the 19-mile Kedong stage, Tänak was forced to stop his Ford Puma Rally1 and get out to change a punctured tire.

It was a rapid change from the Estonian and his co-driver Martin Järveoja, losing just over a minute and a half, but the M-Sport driver lost another 30s towards the end of the stage as well.

Explaining the puncture, Tänak said: “It just came off the rim quite early in the rut, a very simple story.”

But there was more.

“We had some engine trouble,” he said, “so we didn’t get the power anymore.”

Tänak was down in seventh anyway, so actually only lost two positions through his misfortune.

He wasn’t the only driver to pick up a puncture though, as the same fate befell Esapekka Lappi towards the end of the test.

The rear-right tire of his Hyundai delaminated rapidly towards the end of the stage, costing him half a minute in stage time and dropping him behind team-mate Thierry Neuville and Takamoto Katsuta.

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Katsuta went backwards on SS4 too as he had “big damage on the front” which he had to fix before the stage, which therefore reduced his pace as well.

He slipped from fourth to fifth, now 7.9s behind Neuville who, in turn, is just 1.7s behind Elfyn Evans who completes the podium in third.

Evans was caught in dust left behind the ailing Tänak, but he didn’t think “that’s the main time loss to be honest”.

He explained: “I guess a bit too careful, I could feel towards the end I maybe wasn’t taking too many risks.”

Evans dropped 14.1s to the pace setter Rovanperä.

Elsewhere, Dani Sordo and Pierre-Louis Loubet hold seventh and eighth overall, while Oliver Solberg rounds out the top 10 in his Rally2 Škoda.

Kajetan Kajetanowicz had led WRC2 before SS4 but a delamination towards the end of the test handed M-Sport’s Grégoire Munster the lead heading into first service.