Rally Croatia loses opening superspecial stage

New spectator restrictions have forced the organizer to cancel the 1.1-mile test


Rally Croatia, the next round of the World Rally Championship, will run without its planned opening superspecial stage amid new COVID-19 restrictions.

An FIA bulletin on Monday announced that the Zagreb Fair superspecial, a short 1.2-mile test that was due to open the rally on Friday and run again on Saturday evening, had been removed from the itinerary.

With spectators now banned from the service park – which contained part of the planned superspecial route – and an indoor area making up another section of the stage, rally organizers were forced to cancel both runs of the test.


Rally Croatia's original itinerary. SS1/10 has now been lost

Rally director Željko Štefanić confirmed to DirtFish that the event organizer is still pressing ahead with its aim to be the first WRC round to allow spectators since last September’s Rally Estonia.

Under current rules, fans will still be permitted to watch the remaining 20 stages while respecting social distancing.

However, after a steady decline in COVID-19 cases since Croatia’s peak infection rate in mid-December, the country’s confirmed case rate has begun to rise again.


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Croatia hit 1000 daily cases for the first time since January last week. Mario Zovak, director of the Sisters of Charity Hospital in Zagreb, told local newspaper Jutarnji on Monday that he expects case numbers to rise further in the coming days.

Rally Croatia will run on April 22-25.

Photos:FIA ERC Media

Words:Alasdair Lindsay