After mostly winter conditions at Rallye Monte Carlo and Arctic Rally Finland, the World Rally Championship moves to the tarmac. This year, the Rally Croatia debuts in the WRC calendar and will be, in many ways, a challenge for both drivers and teams.
Rally Croatia kicks of Friday morning in Zagreb. The first leg includes eight special stages in mountain areas of Samoborsko Gorje, Zumberak and Karlovac area to the south-west from Zagreb, totalling 99.82 kilometres. The longest day of the rally will be the Saturday, 24th April, when they will cover 121.92 kilometres in eight special stages. The Sunday will bring four more stages. Overall, the teams have to go through 20 special stages in total length of more than 300 kilometres. The most challenging ones are the two Saturday stages – Mali Lipovec Grdanjci (20.30 km) and narrow, windy Stojdraga – Gornja Vas (20.77 km).
Another level of difficulty will be added by the alternating surfaces – the area around Zagreb includes six different types of tarmac, from super-smooth to very rough and heavily broken parts. In some stages, the surface varies significantly.
Even with the challenging conditions, the crews are looking forward to Croatia. Andreas Mikkelsen travels to the country’s capital Zagreb as WRC2 championship leader after a category victory at the Rallye Monte-Carlo and a second place he achieved in Finland. "I'm already looking forward to the fast tarmac roads of Croatia, which should suit our ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo and its well-balanced chassis and suspension," says the Norwegian, looking forward to the third round of the championship.
His 20-years-old team mate Marco Bulacia from Bolivia comes back behind the wheel of the Toksport WRT ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo after a break since Rallye Monte-Carlo. "After a long time, I'm driving the ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo on tarmac again. I feel well prepared and see it as an advantage, that none of my competitors has already been able to gain experience on these special stages," emphasizes Bulacia. The Toksport team is supported by ŠKODA Motorsport.
In WRC3, the category reserved for private crews using Rally2 vehicles as well, the top Finnish crew Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen go head to head with their ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo colleagues Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak. The Polish crew finished third in the WRC3 championship last year and wants to win the WRC3 title in 2021. New to this category is Chris Ingram. The 2019 FIA European Rally Champion steps up the career ladder and shares the cockpit of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo with fellow Briton Ross Wittock.