2022 Croatia Rally form guide

The third rally of the season is new to some, and was short-lived last year for others


After a hefty two-month break, the World Rally Championship is finally back this week with its second ever visit to Croatia.

While it’s been a painful wait for us fans, it’ll have been equally strange for the drivers to be without the competition that orientates their professional lives for so long. Vacations complete, testing done, it’s time for the action to start.

Rally Croatia doesn’t represent the same unknown as it did 12 months ago when it debuted in the WRC, but it’ll be an interesting test for this year’s Rally1 cars as the first truly pure asphalt event of the season (even if the Monte Carlo Rally was a lot drier than usual).

There’s a sense of déjà vu for Kalle Rovanperä who once again heads to Zagreb as the leader of the championship, but he’ll be hoping for a far stronger result than his first stage crash in 2021.

However his 2022 form has been electric so far making him an early favorite for the title, while other pre-season favorites are in dire need of a turnaround in fortune.

Here’s DirtFish’s form guide to Rally Croatia 2022:

#2 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 6th-DNF-5th
Best Croatia result: N/A


Solberg keeps the third seat in Hyundai’s line-up for the third event in succession, but is one of two Rally1 drivers to have no experience of this weekend’s roads.

That potentially puts him at a disadvantage as he’ll have to create brand new pacenotes instead of tweaking an existing set, but truthfully the success of Solberg’s weekend could depend squarely on the pace of the Hyundai.

In Sweden the i20’s speed looked to have improved, but even at round one the team knew in the more predictable and stable grip conditions that it was at a big disadvantage. Provided the weather behaves, Croatia is likely to prove just that.

Regardless, Solberg’s job will be to keep his nose clean and act as rear-gunner to his two more established team-mates.

#4 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 3rd-4th-7th (1st in WRC2)
Best Croatia result: N/A



After his first asphalt pre-event test, Lappi is learning to cope with "crazy" power

The other driver to have never entered Rally Croatia before is Toyota’s Lappi, but he will start this weekend’s rally as a real dark horse for success.

A podium on his return to the WRC’s top table was a fine result – even if Lappi was a little bit concerned by the shortcomings of his performance. But Tarmac has never been the Finn’s best friend as he’s yet to finish on the rostrum on a sealed surface.

But if there’s one thing we’ve learned about this rebooted version of Lappi, it’s that he’s a fast learner and unfazed by being at an experience deficit. He’s hungry and reliable, so there’s little reason to suggest he can’t go very well this week.

#7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Vincent Landais (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: DNF-68th-7th
Best Croatia result: 29th


After half a year on the sidelines, Loubet is back and reunited with long-term co-driver Vincent Landais, who he split with after last year’s Rally Croatia. But this year the Hyundai badge on his overalls has been replaced by the blue oval of Ford.

Loubet needed something new to reinvigorate the spark into his WRC career, and the decision to do a part-time campaign with M-Sport could provide that spark. It’s clear things just didn’t gel towards the end with 2C Competition, but M-Sport’s reputation for nurturing young drivers and the pace of the Puma Rally1 will provide Loubet with confidence.

Croatia was one of his more promising events last year before he went off, but there’s no hiding the mountain Loubet has to climb. He’s down on Rally1 experience (despite an appearance as the course car on South Belgian Rally last month) and recent rally experience in general, and has a lot of critics to silence.

A clean weekend with pace good enough to hang onto his team-mates would be a solid start.

#8 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 20th-DNF-DNF
Best Croatia result: 4th


The one that just can not buy a break at the moment. Tänak’s endless run of misery needs to end some time soon, but Croatia might not be the most promising rally on paper to halt the streak.

Last year, the 2019 world champion struggled to extract the ultimate pace from his Hyundai, just like previous incumbents Andreas Mikkelsen and Sébastien Loeb did on asphalt.

This year it could be the car’s pace rather than Tänak’s ability to maximize it that could cause him problems, but it’ll nevertheless be interesting to see how Tänak approaches this one.

On the one hand, he could decide to play it safe and just ensure he gets a clean rally under his belt and a proper finish to rebuild his confidence. But equally, Tänak’s a born winner. He had the pace to win in Sweden and badly wants to fight. With 41 points to make up already on the championship leader, what option does he have other than to go balls to the wall?


#11 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 2nd-6th-4th
Best Croatia result: 3rd


Despite Hyundai’s early struggles, Neuville finds himself a fine second in the championship behind Kalle Rovanperä – strangely the same position he was in last year.

Twelve months ago Neuville was in the thick of the lead fight but a stall at a hairpin was one of the key moments that restricted him to third-best. Although he’s a fierce competitor, you sense that given Hyundai’s showing on the Monte Carlo Rally he’d gladly sign up for a repeat result right now.

But rest assured, Neuville will drag every ounce of performance from his i20 N Rally1. There’s been a real dogged determination about his approach to rallies of late, so if there’s an opportunity lingering Neuville will pounce and grab it.

#16 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: DNF-DNF-55th
Best Croatia result: 5th


Just as Rally Sweden was, Rally Croatia is a big weekend for Fourmaux – but for very different reasons.

In Sweden, the M-Sport driver badly needed a finish given his metaphorical plane crash on round one. He didn’t get it, but that was due to mechanical mishaps out of his control. In Croatia he’s returning to the scene of his sensational top-flight debut, so will be at more ease and potentially able to bag his first big result of the year.

It was difficult to tell in Sweden as Fourmaux’s pace was so relaxed, but he claims he has learned from his over-eagerness to impress that ultimately derailed his Monte and several rallies before it. If he has, Fourmaux will be a real contender in Croatia.

We can’t forget that before his crash on the Monte, Fourmaux was in the thick of the podium fight in a car that’s clearly well set up for Tarmac. If he plays his cards right, and in the absence of both Sébastiens (Loeb and Ogier), don’t be surprised to see Fourmaux’s name at the very sharp end of the leaderboard.

#18 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 4th-8th-7th
Best Croatia result: 6th


An under-the-radar fourth place on Rally Sweden marked a great return to form for Katsuta, who looks to have finally shirked the demons of his barren second half to 2021.

Consistent and progressively fast, in a lot of ways a two-month break was precisely what Katsuta didn’t need in order to keep up his new-found momentum. But a performance as strong as his in Sweden will have buoyed the Toyota Next Generation camp regardless.

Aside from winning both passes of the Stojdraga – Gornja Vas stage (which has moved forward from Saturday to Friday this year), Katsuta was unspectacular in Croatia last year to seal the third of a string of sixth place finishes.

He’d likely be happy with a similar accomplishment in 2022, but would perhaps prefer to have more of an impact on the podium battle.

#33 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: DNF-21st-2nd
Best Croatia result: 2nd



There's a 42-point gap to the top after two events. Is that recoverable?

Evans’ name being invisible in the top 10 of the championship standings is not where we, or he, expected to be after two rounds in 2022. The Toyota man’s job this weekend is clear: he simply has to win.

And he really doesn’t have any other choice if he’s serious about fighting for this year’s title. But at least the form book does favor Evans given his strong pace (before the off) in the GR Yaris Rally1 in Monaco and his speed in Croatia last year too.

The agonizing mistake that ultimately cost him the Croatia win by just 0.6 seconds last year was swiftly put to the back of Evans’ mind afterward, but it may provide him with that extra spur 12 months on.

Mistakes are the absolute last thing Evans can afford, but they’re what’s dogged his campaign so far. They say bad things happen in threes – Evans will be determined to bust that myth this weekend to get his 2022 season properly up and running.


#42 Craig Breen/Paul Nagle (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 36th-3rd-3rd
Best Croatia result: 8th


An appearance, albeit short-lived, on Rally Sanremo last weekend gives him more relevant seat time than most. But Breen’s fantastic run of consecutive WRC podium finishes has already come to a bruising end in Sweden, which leaves his M-Sport Ford form looking far less impressive than it did after the Monte Carlo Rally.

His 30-point deficit to Rovanperä may look daunting but it’s nothing to be overly concerned about at this stage of the year. Breen’s biggest challenge will be making sure his Croatian blip of 2021 doesn’t repeat in 2022.

As a part-timer for Hyundai last year, Breen was on the podium more than he was off it, but his one trough was in Croatia where he finished a distant eighth, compounded by changing a puncture that was entirely self-inflicted. But the pace before then wasn’t sensational either.

It would be easy to suggest he was experiencing the Tarmac struggles that everyone other than Neuville seemed to in the i20 Coupe WRC, but his speed on Ypres perhaps suggests it was rally-specific.

In his new car with a new team, we’ll find out for sure this year.

#44 Gus Greensmith/Jonas Andersson (Ford Puma Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 5th-5th-8th
Best Croatia result: 7th


Who had Greensmith up in fourth (effectively a net third) in the championship after the Monte Carlo and Swedish rallies in their early pre-season predictions then? It likely wasn’t very many of you.

Greensmith had talked up 2022 as his big year to impress, and so far he’s delivered. The rotten early form of 2021 is long since forgotten and he’s now making important strides towards his first WRC podium finish.

He’s made more public appearances than most over the past two months, judging the FIA Rally Star Middle East & North Africa final in Abu Dhabi and even watching his boss rally in the UK.

On paper Greensmith’s results suggests he’s the weakest Tarmac driver of the three full-time M-Sport pilots, but he’s already proved capable of upsetting the form book in a Puma Rally1. A top-five result – or maybe even more – is feasible.


#69 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR Yaris Rally1)

Last 3 WRC results: 1st-4th-9th
Best Croatia result: DNF



His Rally Croatia lasted three minutes in 2021. He doesn't plan to repeat that

Catch me if you can. That’s the message Rovanperä sent to his rivals with victory on Rally Sweden, the first Loeb or Ogier-less WRC rally since the end of 2006.

The season is of course still very young, but to have a 14-point advantage so soon bodes well for Rovanperä’s third campaign at the top level.

We’ve already explored the demons he needs to crush in Croatia, and there’s every chance his rally will go far better than it did last season. After all, it can’t really be much worse. But whether he will be a victory contender is slightly harder to read.

His asphalt form has been mixed in the WRC with some strong performances – think Ypres 2021 – matched with some anonymous ones like Spain last year. But that’s the beauty of Rovanperä’s early season position – it’s his rivals that need to do the winning.