The fourth rally weekend of this year's World Rally Championship (WRC) season took the crews to the asphalt tracks of Croatia. The large amount of dirt from the “cuts” and the changing weather conditions certainly did not make the situation easier for the drivers, but the Škoda crews coped with these obstacles excellently and took a total of seven places in the TOP 10 in the WRC2 category.
Croatian asphalt is a very specific surface. Unlike in Catalonia, it has very low grip, which is further reduced by the dirt pulled up from the cuts of the corners, so there is no shortage of dramatic moments during the Rally Croatia. Maintaining a fast pace on the tricky stages is extremely difficult. This was confirmed not only by Erik Cais, who immediately went into the woods with his Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 during SS1, but also by Nikolay Gryazin, whose car almost left the track at the same place. During Friday and Saturday, the weather also fooled around with the crews. Local showers were very difficult to predict and so the tyre selection lottery came into play. Simply a rally as it should be. The results of the first day were further mixed up by technical problems for Emil Lindholm, who had to drive only third gear for a large part of the second stage because his shift rod pivot fell out. The Finn was one minute behind and a podium finish seemed highly unlikely.
Saturday started badly for Oliver Solberg, who suffered a puncture during the first morning stage and then damaged the rear of the car during a 360 spin. In addition, he struggled with differential settings that did not suit him throughout the whole event. However, the Swedish-British crew had already decided before the rally not to compete for points in the WRC2 category in Croatia and to approach the whole rally as a training session with the new car on asphalt. Despite this, they set the fastest time among RC2 cars on three of the 20 stages, and ended up third fastest in their class. At the end of Saturday, Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hämäläinen fought their way up to third place in the WRC2 standings with consistently fast times, which they managed to maintain until the end of the rally. Gus Greensmith and Jonas Andersson took victory on the Power Stage, winning in Mexico in a Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 operated by the Toksport WRT team. Croatia, however, was unlucky for them with two punctures. "I'm happy with the performance. It´s just that where we are in the overall ranking is not where we want to be," the Brit summed up his sixth place overall after the Croatian weekend.
Another Finn in the Toksport WRT team, 21-year-old Sami Pajari, put in a solid performance and, despite his lack of asphalt experience, finished the rally in fifth place. In the WRC2 category, ŠKODA cars took a total of 7 places in the TOP 10. Seventh overall, Armin Kremer also dominated the WRC Masters Cup category for drivers over 50 years of age.