Rally Croatia – Day Two Report – Saturday

The second day of this event and the crews had 108km’s over eight stages to tackle. The start list would be reversed with Thierry last into the stages throughout the day. Opening the road would be Gregoire Munster. Of course, Thierry and Elfyn would start the day on the same overall time after Friday’s stages.

First up was SS9 Smerovišće – Grdanjci 1 – 15.72 km and Adrien took his position as starting fourth on the road to win the stage from Thierry and Seb. Elfyn was fifth fastest and just eight tenths of a second from Thierry. In WRC2 Yohan was fastest from Nikolay and Pepe, the trio picking up where they left off at the end on Friday.

Onto SS10 Stojdraga – Gornja Vas 1 – 20.77 km and it was the turn of Seb to go fastest from Thierry and Elfyn who had set the same time, just three tenths behind the eight-time champion. The gap between the top two remained the same of course. There was a moment for Ott in the stage when he went wide, although at the time he went fastest before ultimately taking fifth fastest in the stage. In WRC2 Yohan was fastest, taking 7.1 seconds from Nikolay’s lead, whilst Eyvind was third. The Norwegian was having a good rally after two years away.

Next up was SS11 Vinski Vrh – Duga Resa 1 – 8.78 km and Thierry returned to the top of the stage times, winning the stage from Elfyn and Seb, the gap was now 1.7 seconds between the top two. Yohan took another WRC2 category stage win from Nikolay and Nicolas was third in the category.

The final stage before service and lunch, SS12 Pećurkovo Brdo – Mrežnički Novaki 1 – 9.11 km and Thierry was fastest from Seb and Ott. Meanwhile Elfyn found the stage very slippery and set the same time as Ott, three seconds behind Thierry’s stage winning time. The gap was now 4.1 seconds between the top two. There was some drama for Yohan in WRC2 as he suffered a puncture and lost 38.7 seconds to Nikolay. The Frenchman remained second in the category with a minute and 21 second lead over Pepe.

After the break the rain had arrived in places on SS13 Smerovišće – Grdanjci 2 – 15.72 km and Elfyn was fastest from Seb and Thierry. The Welshman took four soft tyres, and this gave him an advantage through the stage which was wet in places over the mix tyred Hyundai of Thierry. The Belgian was 6.7 seconds slower than Elfyn and fell from the lead, now two seconds from new leader Elfyn. Yohan returned to the top spot in WRC2 with the fastest time from Pepe and Nicolas. Nikolay continued to lead but after being almost 21 seconds slower than his French teammate, had a reduced lead of 39.1 seconds.

Next up was SS14 Stojdraga – Gornja Vas 2 – 20.77 km and Thierry was fastest again from Seb and Elfyn. This pace took Thierry back into the lead by 2.3 seconds as the tyre strategy by the Hyundai team gave them the advantage over the Toyota team’s. In WRC2 there was no change in the top three as Nikolay continued to lead the category from Yohan and Pepe was still third.

Just two stages remained then to decide the Saturday points for the top ten positions and first up was SS15 Vinski Vrh – Duga Resa 2 – 8.78 km. Thierry was fastest again from Seb and Elfyn and now the lead over the Welshman was four seconds. There was still no change in WRC2 as Nikolay remained in the lead from Yohan and Pepe.

The final stage then of the day, SS16 Pećurkovo Brdo – Mrežnički Novaki 2 – 9.11 km and Thierry was again from Seb and Elfyn, with the gap widening to 4.9 seconds at the end of Saturday’s stages. Quite amazing.

Let’s take a look at the top positions and hear from the drivers.

Classification after Day Two

1 T. Neuville M. Wydaeghe Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid 2:09:46
2 E. Evans S. Martin Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +4.9
3 S. Ogier V. Landais Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +11.6
4 O. Tänak M. Järveoja Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +1:15.5
5 A. Fourmaux A. Coria Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +1:35.4
6 T. Katsuta A. Johnston Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid +2:14.2
7 A. Mikkelsen T. Eriksen Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid +4:00.8
8 G. Munster L. Louka Ford Puma Rally1 Hybrid +4:56.3
9 N. Gryazin K. Aleksandrov Škoda Fabia RS +7:41.4
10 Y. Rossel A. Dunand Citroën C3 +8:20.9

Hyundai Motorsport

Thierry Neuville

“This afternoon was trickier due to very challenging weather. We feared that we made the wrong choice, but the rain didn’t continue, and we were able to set good times by mixing the tyre choice based on the stages we were tackling. It’s not easy to know what is the best mix, but I followed my gut feeling. Even if you know the stages here well, they are still really difficult. They are challenging and narrow, with lots of crests and blind corners. Anything can happen on tomorrow’s final run, so we need to keep focused. We want to bring home the victory, but more importantly some extra points.”

2024 FIA World Rally Championship
Round 04, Croatia Rally
18 – 21 March 2024
Thierry Neuville
Photographer: Austral
Worldwide copyright: Hyundai Motorsport GmbH

Ott Tänak

“I felt definitely less comfortable in the car this afternoon and we couldn’t find any good rhythm to finish the day. I think to maximise our potential tomorrow we will try to go back to where we were yesterday afternoon – something we know was working a lot better for us. If we start from there, we will then need to work hard tomorrow to bring back as many points as possible from Super Sunday and the Power Stage.”

Andreas Mikkelsen

“I think we are taking small steps; we would like to be making bigger ones, of course, but we are still learning. For sure there’s the potential for more, but I’m still having some moments in the car. I think we are at a point where the car now is working fairly well for me, and it is more the features and my familiarity of the stages that I’m missing. I haven’t done this rally since 2021 and many stages are new, so where the other crews are fine-tuning their pace notes to be absolutely perfect, I am still digesting so much information.”


Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT

Elfyn Evans

“It’s been a good day and good fun behind the wheel. The margins have been very tight here and we just couldn’t quite match Thierry, who was very fast all day. We had a good start to the afternoon to take the lead – we had the right tyre choice for that stage especially. After that, I think it’s hard to say what the best choice was, as the feeling was pretty good in the car. We just unfortunately fell short at the end of the day. There will be another difficult tyre choice to make to cover the whole final day, but we’ll try to make good decisions and give it our best.”

Sébastien Ogier

“Overall, it’s been a good day for me in the car. Everyone was expecting rain today and we made some changes to the car anticipating that, and I didn’t quite feel as comfortable as yesterday. We had a few drops of rain to start the afternoon and we had a tyre choice that suited these conditions, so we managed to get back a little bit of time. Unfortunately, it kind of balanced out over the rest of the loop. Still, it’s been a positive day, we were just missing something to make the difference in this close fight. It’s not over yet, and we will keep pushing until the end – also to help the team score the maximum points.”

Takamoto Katsuta

“For sure, today was much better than yesterday, so I’m feeling happier tonight. I felt good in the car and it’s getting better and better all the time. I was more competitive in some stages and just missing a bit of commitment in others. It’s easier to see now where I’m losing time compared to the top three and why, but I wasn’t taking huge risks. I think the team did a very good job with the tyre choices because it was difficult to get it right for every stage. Tomorrow I’ll try to push myself and to take some extra points for myself and the team.”



We have 54.78km’s to decide this rally’s final standings and the points to be awarded for the top seven positions at the end of Sunday’s stages.

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