This year at the Croatia Rally, more than 300 km of special stages expect crews. Due to the epidemiological situation, the Super Special Stage will not take place at the Zagreb Fair. Yet, the itinerary remains attractive and challenging enough for the best drivers in the world.
ZAGREB, March 27, 2021 – It’s less than a month until the start of the Croatia Rally, round three of the World Rally Championship.
The competition’s itinerary has been minimally abbreviated. Two Super Special Stages will not occur at the Zagreb Fair, but the race remains extremely attractive.
In Croatia, the best crews in the world expect twenty special stages in the area of Zagreb and Zagreb, Karlovac and Krapina-Zagorje counties. The competition will start with a ceremonial start in front of the National and University Library in Zagreb on April 22 and will last until April 25, when the crews are expected at finish at Zagreb’s St. Mark’s Square.
“We hoped until the last moment and believed that we would be able to organize the Super Special Stage at the Fair. But the epidemiological situation did not go our way.
These tests would gather a larger number of people in a small space, and part of the Super Special Stage would be driven inside the pavilion, so it would be difficult or impossible to maintain a required social distance. The health of all participants is our number one priority, and we decided to abbreviate the itinerary. The rest of the competition will be held according to the planned schedule”, emphasized the President of the Organizing Committee of the Croatia Rally, Daniel Šaškin.
Despite the shorter route, Croatia Rally remains the first competition with more than 300 kilometers of special stages after the Rally Catalunya – Costa Daruda 2019. FIA and WRC delegates were also pleased with what they saw in Croatia during last week’s site inspection. They consider the fact that the rally is coming to a big city like Zagreb to be a big plus as, in addition to the service, there will also be locations for the ceremonial start and finish. They also assessed the special stages as attractive and challenging.
“What makes us extremely happy are the entries. It is already clear that all WRC stars will be driving in Croatia and fighting for important championship points at our special stages. After shortening the Croatia Rally route, the concept did not change significantly. Regarding the location, it will not be driven only at the Fair, near the service park. All other locations outside Zagreb will be as planned. Friday and Saturday are reserved for special stages in the Samobor hills, Žumberak and Karlovac area, while on Sunday they will drive across Sljeme and in the vicinity of Kumrovec”, said the Clerk of the Course Slaven Dedić.
Croatia Rally will be counted for WRC, WRC-2, WRC-3, and Junior WRC. A big fight will be fought in all classes. Currently leading in the strongest class is 20-year-old Finn Kalle Rovanpera, a Toyota driver. Second place is held by Belgian Thierry Neuville from Hyundai, while third is the seven-time world champion, Frenchman Sebastien Ogier from Toyota. It is expected that the teams in Croatia will present the latest evolutions of cars for the first time, because in the first two competitions of the season, due to wet and snowy conditions, they did not need the maximum potential of competition vehicles. The organizers still hope that the spectacle will not go without viewers.
“In Estonia last year, the authorities allowed the WRC competition with the public in specially designated zones. I believe that something similar could be organized in Croatia. We have 150 kilometers of special stages, which potentially offer views from the road’s left and right sides. There is no shortage of space to keep the epidemiological distance, and we have prepared particular COVID protocols. All participants, officials, and spectators (if allowed to come) will have to abide by them. For those who will not be able to be by the track, there are broadcasts on Croatian Radio and Television that I believe will have a large audience”, concluded Šaškin.
The specificity of Croatia Rally special stages is narrow and winding roads with many crests. Many asphalt changes also characterize them, so one of the critical things before starting will be finding a good car setup. Asphalt tires from Pirelli, a new supplier for the WRC, will have their premiere in Croatia, which will be another challenge for competitors and teams.
All information about the sports spectacle in Croatia in April can be found on the official website rally-croatia.com and on the official social network channels on on Facebook – Croatia Rally, and Instagram – Croatia Rally.