Peugeot 206 WRC driver Harri Rovanpera has scored a podium finish on the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Safari Rally, which finished in Nairobi this afternoon. The Finn, navigated by Risto PietilaÃ¯nen, finished second ...
Peugeot 206 WRC driver Harri Rovanpera has scored a podium finish on the eighth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Safari Rally, which finished in Nairobi this afternoon.
The Finn, navigated by Risto Pietilaïnen, finished second overall after a marathon event that claimed all but five of the factory entries. In addition to moving him into fourth in the drivers' series standings, Rovanpera's result gained Peugeot six crucial points in its push towards the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers.
Today's final leg repeated competitive sections south of the Kenyan capital that had been used on the opening day, and conditions were slightly rougher as a result. Three out of the top seven cars hit problems in the morning's first competitive section but Rovanpera maintained the steady, cautious approach that had kept him in the top three since the opening day.
Heavy delays caused by problems with safety helicopters meant that one of today's sections had to be scrubbed, but Rovanpera survived a late scare when he had a driveshaft problem to return to Nairobi with his third podium finish of the season.
Harri said: " I'm delighted for the whole team. We really wanted to come to Safari and show that we could finish this event, and we've clearly made a big step forward with the 206 in its new evolution. I've really had no major problems throughout the whole event apart from that scare on the last section, but anything like that can happen on the Safari. This is the sort of rally where you have to have a plan, a steady speed and stick to it. That's what we did and it's worked to the end. "
Peugeot Sport director Corrado Provera said: " This second place is like a victory for us. After many rallies where our results were less than we expected, this is the first time since 1978 that a Peugeot has driven onto the Safari podium. You have to go back to that rally with Jean-Pierre Nicolas and Jean-Claude Lefebvre with the 504 to see as good a result. The car showed the level of performance and reliability that our technicians and engineers have worked so hard to supply. And we greatly appreciate the hard work from Harri and Risto - they have been superbly professional and they are taking a bigger and bigger place in our hearts with each rally. " Rovanpera and Peugeot will both have high hopes for the next round of the World championship, the Rally Finland, which runs from August 24-26. The Finn finished third there last year behind his current team-mate Marcus Gronholm, who scored a dominant win for the 206 WRC on his way to the world title.