It’s been the longest eight weeks ever for fans of the World Rally Championship, but finally the WRC is back this week with the Croatia Rally.
After a successful and thrilling debut last year, plenty of action is expected as the world’s finest rally drivers head to Zagreb for just the second time.
Here’s all the key information you need for this week’s rally:
Total 64 crews
11 Priority 1 crews
29 Priority 2 crews (WRC2)
10 Priority 3 crews (WRC3)
14 Non-priority crews
There’s little change in the ranks in the WRC’s top class as both the third Toyota and third Hyundai will be occupied by the same driver that drove them in Sweden (Esapekka Lappi and Oliver Solberg).
But there’s an addition to the entry compared to round two in the form of Pierre-Louis Loubet who begins his seven-round campaign with M-Sport in Croatia.
Kalle Rovanperä’s Toyota will be first onto the stages on the opening leg, swiftly followed by Thierry Neuville’s Hyundai and Gus Greensmith’s M-Sport Ford.
As is becoming the norm, it’s another impressive entry in WRC2 this week with just under 30 cars all competing for honors.
Reigning champion Andreas Mikkelsen has won both rounds so far this season but isn’t starting the Croatia Rally, opening the door for a new name to top the WRC2 podium in 2022.
On past form, the three French Citroën drivers – Stéphane Lefebvre, Yohan Rossel and Eric Camill – appear to be obvious favorites but there are plenty of contenders in the mix too.
Nikolay Gryazin is always fast, Kajetan Kajetanowicz has been a frontrunner in WRC3 for years, Erik Cais was blistering on the Monte, Emil Lindholm is never far away and his Toksport stablemate Chris Ingram is in good form as he starts his first WRC event with multiple ARA champion co-driver Craig Drew.
Over 10 Rally3 cars have entered the Croatia Rally, with seven in the Junior WRC category (up one from Sweden) as Jean-Baptsite Franceschi is now fit enough to compete.
Jon Armstrong won the opening round in Sweden, won in Croatia last year and was impressive on a one-off European Rally Championship appearance on the Azores too, so is a clear candidate for victory.
But reigning champion Sami Pajari will be a threat and so too could be William Creighton who, although hasn’t won a JWRC round before, has been getting plenty of seat-time at home in Ireland ahead of this weekend’s event.
Pajari and Creighton are both eligible for WRC3 as well as Junior WRC, and there they’ll face opposition from experienced Rally2 pedaller Enrico Brazzoli as well as Zoltán László and local driver Ivica Siladić.
Thursday April 21
Shakedown Okić (2.27 miles) 0901
Friday April 22
SS1 Mali Lipovec – Grdanjci 1 (11.93 miles) 0833
SS2 Stojdraga – Gornja Vas 1 (12.9 miles) 0926
SS3 Krašić – Vrškovac 1 (6.9 miles) 1019
SS4 Pećurkovo Brdo – Mrežnički Novaki 2 (5.66 miles) 1132
SS5 Mali Lipovec – Grdanjci 2 (11.93 miles) 1505
SS6 Stojdraga – Gornja Vas 2 (12.9 miles) 1558
SS7 Krašić – Vrškovac 2 (6.9 miles) 1651
SS8 Pećurkovo Brdo – Mrežnički Novaki 1 (5.66 miles) 1804
Saturday April 23
SS9 Kostanjevac – Petruš Vrh 1 (14.76 miles) 0743
SS10 Jaškovo – Mali Modruš Potok 1 (6.27 miles) 0841
SS11 Platak 1 (9.85 miles) 1009
SS12 Vinski Vrh – Duga Resa 1 (5.45 miles) 1138
SS13 Kostanjevac – Petruš Vrh 2 (14.76 miles) 1516
SS14 Jaškovo – Mali Modruš Potok 2 (6.27 miles) 1614
SS15 Platak 2 (9.85 miles) 1742
SS16 Vinski Vrh – Duga Resa 2 (5.45 miles) 1908
Sunday April 24
SS17 Trakošćan – Vrbno 1 (8.17 miles) 0718
SS18 Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec 1 (8.75 miles) 0838
SS19 Trakošćan – Vrbno 2 (8.17 miles) 1026
SS20 Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec 2 (8.75 miles) 1318
Total competitive mileage: 181.33 miles