There were a number of things that made this performance special. First, Rovanperä as championship leader was starting first on the road on Friday, which is supposed to be a huge disadvantage because the lead car becomes a road sweeper for the rest. On the Safari deep, soft sand only increased the challenge, but it didn’t seem to bog Rovanperä down. He finished the first day with a 14.6s lead over Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans, which was a remarkable turnaround given that he nearly rolled out of the opening Thursday Super Special and picked up a puncture.
Welshman Evans, to his credit, provided a stern test to Rovanperä’s dominance on Saturday, Kalle feeling off-colour in the morning. But torrential rain then hit the event and the leader put in a masterful display in the conditions, opening up a lead of more than 40 seconds by the end of the second day. From there, it was simply a case of managing his advantage over the final leg on Sunday. Rovanperä’s final margin of victory was 52.8s, ahead of Evans.
The win is his fourth in six rounds and he now holds a massive 65-point advantage over Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville in the WRC standings. There’s been little doubt for a while that, barring any major developments, the son of ex-WRC ace Harri Rovanperä will win his first world championship title this season. The only question now is, how many will he go on to win? At his age, the potential is all too obvious.