France's Sebastien Ogier and co-driver Vincent Landais
Naivasha (Kenya) (AFP) - France’s eight-time former world champion Sebastien Ogier patched up his rear tailgate with a bin liner en route to edging Toyota teammate Kalle Rovanpera to win the Safari Rally in Kenya on Sunday.
Ogier, who isn’t driving a full season, came home just 6.7 seconds ahead of the 22-year-old Finn as Toyota claimed the first four places with Elfyn Evans rounding out the podium and Takamoto Katsuta finishing in fourth.
It was the 39-year-old Ogier’s third victory from just five starts so far this season, his second in Kenya after 2021 and his 58th career win in the World Rally Championship.
Rovanpera’s second place saw him consolidate his place atop the drivers’ standings, 37 points clear of Belgium’s Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), who finished in eighth in Kenya, after round seven of 13.
Victory was far from a given, however, as Ogier clipped a tree and ripped off his car’s entire rear tailgate. He patched the gap using a bin liner to keep dust at bay.
“Unbelievable! Look at that, even on the Power Stage I got a stone on the windscreen!” Ogier said.
“We had a lot of issues to face but it could have been a more comfortable rally for us in terms of pace. A lot of misfortune but we brought it home.”
Title-defending Rovanpera added: “You always want to fight for the win but we did our best starting first car on the road, so regarding that I think it’s not fully bad.
“Good points for the season anyway.”
The World Rally Championship returns to Europe next month when the super-fast gravel roads of Rally Estonia host round eight from July 20-23.