WRC Safari Rally Kenya Odds: Rovanperä Returns

A wild finish in Sweden precedes the first full-gravel event in Kenya this weekend

Following a relatively ho-hum start to the season, the WRC had one of the more hectic races in recent memory in Rally Sweden. Esapekka Lappi won an event for the first time in more than six years after many of the leaders ran into trouble on days one and two.

Six weeks later, the grid is set for the first gravel event of the year: Safari Rally Kenya. Traditionally the longest event on the calendar, the WRC Safari Rally Kenya Odds point to the leaders getting back on top again.

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WRC Safari Rally Kenya Odds: Favorites for Round 3

  • Kalle Rovanperä (-141)

The two-time defending WRC champion returns for the second week in a row for a much different challenge than Sweden. Rovanperä’s competing on a part-time basis this year and remains one of the top drivers to beat despite his poor result in Sweden.

Rovanperä has a solid track record in the Safari Rally. He finished sixth in his first event there in 2021 before winning by nearly a minute in 2022. Last year, he finished second to Sébastien Ogier by just 6.7 seconds. His Sweden result casts some doubt on a win this week, but his track record is good enough to overcome any concerns.

  • Thierry Neuville (+375)

Neuville’s recovery drive to fourth in Sweden puts him in the championship lead early on in the WRC schedule. He holds a three-point lead over Elfyn Evans thanks to his win in the season opener in Monte Carlo.

Neuville’s struggled in Kenya over the last three years. He retired from the race in 2021, finished fifth in 2022, and was disqualified from the event last year.

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A podium finish would be a surprise let alone a win. This will be a key weekend for the Belgian driver. A solid result to buck his trend at this rally race could be a major stepping point in his championship campaign.

  • Ott Tänak (+375)

Tänak was one of the many drivers who ran into trouble in Sweden, ending the event classified 41st. His track record in Kenya is solid but not great: third in 2021, retired in 2022, and sixth in 2023.

But of his 19 career WRC victories, 11 came in gravel events. Wins in Sardinia, Chile, Argentina, Turkey, and more over the years prove he can win in these conditions. Thanks to the championship standings order, he’ll start fourth for the stages this weekend. That could help him as he’s often been higher in the starting order in recent years.

  • Elfyn Evans (+450)

Evans’ second place in Sweden makes it two podium finishes in a row for the lead Toyota driver. That second place came after lots of time lost early on in the rally. Like many of the other WRC+ leaders, Evans hasn’t won in Kenya before.

But he’s made at least the top 10 in three events there: 10th in 2021, second in 2022, and third in 2023. He’ll need to get a better feel for the car in these conditions faster than in Sweden but he’s got a great shot at a top result.

Sleepers this weekend

  • Esapekka Lappi (+1300)

Lappi’s second career WRC win last time out in Sweden came 81 events after his first win in the 2017 Rally Finland. That broke the series record for the longest gap between wins in both time and number of rallies.

His world rally championship odds bring him back down to Earth this week. The win in Sweden will be hard to replicate, especially at an event in which he has very little experience.

This week’s Rally Kenya will be Lappi’s second time in the event. Last year, he finished 12th. It’d be a major surprise to see him on the podium’s top step this week.

  • Takamoto Katsuta (+2000)

Katsuta nearly won his first WRC race last week before late problems saw him finish 45th. Luckily, he is coming to an event this week where he has one of the best track records on the full-time grid.

He’s finished fourth or better in each of the three Safari Rally events he’s entered: second in 2021, third in 2022, and fourth in 2023. He came close to contending for a first win last time out in tough conditions. This week should be better conditions for him to perform well.

WRC Safari Rally Kenya Odds: Predictions

At more than 355 kilometers (220 miles), the Safari Rally tests drivers’ endurance in the gravel conditions. This year sees the event at its earliest time on the calendar and facing wet conditions. Cars could be forced to run with snorkels in the race and add even more drama to the event.

Of the favorites, Rovanperä looks like the safest bet. He’s a proven winner in Kenya and will be keen to make up for the disappointment in Sweden. If his odds aren’t good enough for a worthwhile payout, go with Evans instead.

His track record is solid, as was his recovery drive in Sweden. Of the sleepers, Katsuta’s odds are very long for a driver who’s done well in this event before. He’s worth a flyer with an outstanding reward.

For WRC betting news, odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.

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