Nairobi — Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Kalle Rovanperä believes his task as the road opener on WRC Safari Rally Kenya this week will be herculean.
Acknowledging the challenge that lies ahead of him on the fabled Kenyan fixture, the World Championship leader narrated: "It's going to be a tough event. But I'm hoping that in Kenya maybe we will not lose so much time opening the road and we can try to have a good weekend."
Rovanperä savors a 55-point cushion at the summit of the championship log and will be returning to Naivasha to break last year's jinx.
Rovanperä will open the road on the Friday's opening leg and will be sweeping the dust and loose volcanic ash gravel in the world's toughest rally.
The Finn was tasked with the same job at Rally Italia Sardegna earlier this month where he managed fifth overall.
He anticipates a similar tough ride in Kenya at the weekend. "Last year already we saw a lot of issues, so to open the road and still have a good rally there would be good"
The Finn retired from second overall in 2021 after getting stuck in deep ruts.
"It's quite a different rally as usual, and it's maybe not the one you enjoy the most when you are the in the car, but of course the scenery is great. It's a special place and you need to approach it a bit differently too," Rovanperä told WRC.com.
The leader says last year's Safari was not as strong a rally for him as he had wanted it to be. "Last year, it was a good rally for us overall, we were just a bit unlucky to get stuck when we did at the end of Friday," he said.
Rovanperä reveals that he will try to avoid unnecessary risks and tackle the event in a better way, because he sees a lot of difficult conditions there and things he doesn't normally see in modern rallies.
Toyota Gazoo Racing sporting director Kaj Lindström echoed Rovanperä's comments and added that the team has a plan in place to try and bring home more valuable points.
"We already talked about our Kenya plans before Sardinia," he explained, adding: "Even though Kalle is only young, he's mature in his mind. He understands that he can take what he can get this week but not by doing anything silly."
This year's WRC Safari is sponsored by KCB Bank Kenya, Toyota Kenya, Quickmart and Kenya Wildlife Service among others.
The event begins with Wednesday's Shakedown at Ndulele Conservancy and Ceremonial starts at KICC on Thursday.
The event will culminate with Sunday's Wolf Power Stage at Hell's Gate National Park after traversing some of the iconic Safari routes of the old.