Elfyn Evans takes the start of the 91st WRC Monte-Carlo Rally. Pic: Getty Images.

So Solid Elfyn Evans Looking For More Croatian Magic

By Gareth James

Elfyn Evans is looking to grab the lead in the World Rally Championship title battle in Croatia this week.

The Welsh ace heads to Zagreb lying second in the championship standings after what he says is a ‘solid’ start to the campaign.

Evans is just six points off top spot under the new scoring format introduced this season.

“The start of our season has been solid and we’ve come away from each round with some decent points,” said Toyota driver Evans, who won the event last year.

“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.”

Since Croatia first joined the WRC schedule three years ago, TGR-WRT has tasted victory with three different drivers in as many editions.

Two of those drivers return as part of its line-up for this year’s event, with the 2021 winner Sébastien Ogier to make his second start of the season alongside 2023 victor Elfyn Evans and Takamoto Katsuta, who has a trio of top-six finishes under his belt in Croatia.

After achieving a record-extending victory on Safari Rally Kenya, TGR-WRT leads the manufacturers’ championship by four points.

The rally continues to be based in the Croatian capital Zagreb – although the service park this year moves to a new location at the Westgate shopping mall to the north-west of the city centre.

The stages take place across the north of the country, close to neighbouring Slovenia, on roads that feature a wide variety of different asphalt types. This means that grip levels are constantly changing, which can be further complicated by rain and mud. Some sections are technical and twisting, while many others are fast and flowing with jumps and crests.

 

After a shakedown and ceremonial start on Thursday, the rally begins on Friday with its longest day. Four stages take the rally south-west from Zagreb towards the coastal city of Rijeka, which hosts a lunchtime regroup. After a tyre-fitting zone, the same four stages will be tackled in reverse order in the afternoon on the way back to Zagreb.

Saturday runs to a more typical format, with a loop of four stages to the west and south of Zagreb to be run twice either side of mid-day service. As usual, Sunday’s finale takes place to the north of Zagreb where a pair of stages will be run twice, with Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec once more hosting the rally-ending Power Stage.

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