Rally Croatia 2024 Preview – Return to Tarmac!

The championship moves onto the asphalt roads of Croatia, round four of this season. Of course, this round is likely to see the drivers once again remembering their former competitor Craig Breen.


2024 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 04, Croatia Rally
18-21 April 2024
Ott Tanak, Martin Jarveoja, Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, Atmosphere, Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Andreas Mikkelsen,Tortstein Eriksen, Cyril Abiteboul
Photographer: Dufour Fabien
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Twelve months on from his passing during a pre-event test ahead of the 2023 edition, the cars from Hyundai have continued to carry the tribute #ForCraig.

Last year’s round was won by Elfyn and Scott for Toyota after Thierry and Martijn in their i20 went off the road when in the lead and although they returned and finished the rally under the usual rally regulations, it was a lowly finish for their pair. They will want to win this weekend and continue their good start to the season.

Second on the road for Elfyn and Scott will be a good position for the pair, with the hope that the roads do not get too dirty from the cuts of the Belgian crew ahead. They took fifth on the road last year and made it second in the standings at the end of the first day before ultimately taking a well-deserved victory.

After a fantastic start to the year, Adrien and Alex come to this round third in the championship after two podiums. It has been great to see them up there for M-Sport Ford, having not put a wheel wrong in three tricky events so far.

Elsewhere in the teams, Andreas Mikkelsen and Seb Ogier return for their part seasons in the Hyundai and Toyota squads respectively.

Let’s hear from the drivers and take a look at the stages as well.

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“Croatia is one of the most demanding tarmac rallies I have ever competed in. There are lots of blind corners, crests and jumps – something very unusual for a tarmac event. I like the challenge of Croatia; the profile of the stages and the speed combined with the wide and narrow stages creates a unique test. But the roads are very similar to Belgian roads when it’s raining, so that creates some familiarity for us. The car needs to have the perfect setup for both wet and dry conditions because of the unpredictability of the weather – if the setup is wrong, we lose confidence. I would like to finish on the podium in Croatia: finishing in the top three is crucial to maintaining the championship lead. Our biggest target is to push for a top-step finish.”

2024 FIA World Rally Championship Round 4,
Croatia Rally 2024, 18-21 April 2024
Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid, Atmosphere during Croatia Rally 2024
Photographer: Romain Thuillier
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak

“Croatia is a fun tarmac event. The grip is low, and the surface can get quite dirty, but at the same time there are a lot of vertical crests and jumps with blind corners. Tarmac is quite rare nowadays on our calendar, we only do a couple of events per year, so it’s special. We have already driven on tarmac in Monte-Carlo, and I would say the feeling there was not bad, and by the end of the rally we were getting quite close. We need to take that experience and get the balance right on the car to maximise the grip; if we do that we should have the package we need for Croatia. We definitely want to do well, so hopefully we get a good feeling from the start. We need a trouble-free event, and we are ultimately always fighting for the win.”

Andreas Mikkelsen

“I am feeling very positive after a solid start to the season in Monte-Carlo. It’s great to be returning to the Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid for a WRC round, especially after contesting Rally Regione Piemonte. Croatia is a unique challenge, but we have many years of rallying experience that we can use to make good judgements on stage. With the grip and weather changing all the time, good pace notes are an essential to doing well there. Obviously, our road position at the start of the weekend will be a disadvantage, especially if there is rain, due to the amount of mud that gets pulled up. We are ultimately targeting a podium, but if conditions get tricky then a top-five finish is where we want to end up.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans

“The start of our season has been solid, and we’ve come away from each round with some decent points. We’ve had three quite unique events with very specific challenges and now we come to some more typical European asphalt and gravel rallies, we need to focus on trying to maximise these. Last year was good for us on asphalt, including Croatia, so it’s a rally we look forward to. We know this is a pretty tricky rally with the changeable grip levels and it’s very easy to make a mistake. So, we need to try and have a clean rally but, at the same time, we know that we’ll need to drive quickly to be fighting at the front.”


Takamoto Katsuta

“I’m feeling more and more confident on asphalt after my performance on Rally Japan last year, and some stages of Monte-Carlo this year. However, Croatia is one of the trickiest rallies because of the amount of cutting and the number of surface changes. Being able to fully commit when the road is dirty is an area where I can still improve in my asphalt driving, and I want to take this event as an opportunity to continue making progress. It will not be an easy rally, especially with our starting position on Friday and even more so if it rains. So it could be important to have some patience in the beginning and then try to find the rhythm and a good balance to be able to push hard.”

Sébastien Ogier

“I’ve enjoyed my time off since Monte-Carlo and now I’m happy to get back into competition. My test last week was a good chance to get my feeling back in the car, with quite a demanding road: pretty fast with jumps and narrow sections. These are features of the rally as well, but we also know that the weather can be uncertain at this time of year. We don’t have the ideal starting position for an asphalt rally, so we’ll have to assess the conditions and see what we can do. My main motivation is always to reach the podium and fight for victory, but I’m also here to help the team, and with the new points system we can see that Sundays are also now more important than ever.”


M-Sport Ford WRT

Adrien Fourmaux

“Croatia is a really special event for me, it was my first time in a world rally car in the championship back in 2021, where I finished 5th. I really like the roads, with the really smooth Tarmac sections, but it’s also one of the most difficult Tarmac events of the season. Because the grip is so changeable, it’s not easy to know where the grip is and where it’s not, the kind of Tarmac changes so much. So we need a lot of precision because there are also a lot of cuts.


“It’s a big challenge for all the crews, but an enjoyable rally with all the spectators who come out to watch every year. I’m really looking forward to it, and after two podiums so far I’m hoping that we can continue in that way!”

Grégoire Munster

“I’m looking forward to Croatia and being back on Tarmac, which is the surface where I’m most comfortable. We had a very good pre-event test, where the feeling with the car was really encouraging, so we just want to be in Croatia already! The profile of the rally is a fast Tarmac event, but with a lot of crests, dips and cuts, and the roads can get a bit dirty, but I enjoy it when the conditions are tricky!”

William Creighton

“I’m looking forward to the event after gaining good experience of the Fiesta on Tarmac in the Irish and British championships. The rally is going to be a big challenge with the slippery Croatian tar and the level of competition within the WRC2 category. We will focus on having a good pre-event test and recce so that we can have an enjoyable rally and allow us to make improvements throughout the weekend.”

Summary of the stages.

This seasons Rally Croatia sees the crews tackle 283km’s over 20 stages. The longest day is Friday with 119km’s.

Croatia Rally commences on Thursday morning with Shakedown, followed by a Ceremonial Start at Zagreb’s National and University Library in the evening.

Friday is both the first and longest day of competitive action, boasting an overall stage distance of 119.74km.

Day One also contains no midday service, despite featuring two passes of the rally’s longest stage: Krašić – Sošice (23.63km).

After 108.76km of stages on Saturday, the event concludes on Sunday with four final tests, including the Power Stage of Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec 2 (14.24km).

The action starts on Thursday with shakedown on the 3.65 km Okić stage.

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