Thierry Neuville has labeled the 2022 Croatia Rally as “far more challenging” than any other asphalt event he has ever done in the World Rally Championship.
Having finished third on last year’s inaugural running of the Croatia Rally, Neuville repeated that result in 2022 where the rally proved to be even trickier with changeable weather conditions severely altering grip levels.
Despite having the speed to win, Neuville’s event was beset by mechanical trouble, time penalties and a mistake on the powerstage but he still enjoyed tackling the Croatian stages for a second time.
“We enjoyed driving a lot because I think it’s one of the best Tarmac rallies we’ve ever had in the championship and with the weather conditions we had this weekend I think it made it far more challenging than any other Tarmac rally I have done in my career and I enjoyed it,” Neuville told DirtFish.
“The stages are all different, they are all challenging, different characteristics [and have] jumps which is very unusual on Tarmac.
“[There are] lots of wide corners, crests, lots of cutting which maybe for my liking was a little bit too much, but we could do with something in the future, more anti-cut system and maybe even better system.
“The atmosphere is great, the scenery is beautiful and [there are] so many people around enjoying, very respectful. So for us as drivers it’s a pleasure to be here.”
Asked if there should be a long-term future for Croatia in the WRC, he added: “Definitely.”
It’s an opinion shared by team management too, as M-Sport team principal described the rally as “already a bit of an iconic event”.
“I think an event that’s had two powerstages deciding the rally twice in a row is… you’d think there’s something in that,” Millener told DirtFish.
“OK there’s a bit of luck in that but look how many stories we’ve got this weekend. There’s sometimes a point in a weekend where you can sit in the office watching and you’re a little bit like ‘well not much is changing here.’
“The gaps get big, punctures on Friday, you can sometimes get into this moment where there’s two minutes between each car and then everybody’s just doing what they can and waiting for somebody to make a mistake but this weekend’s been not that at all.
“Every stage brought a new challenge and I think we saw that last year even when it was dry. We knew it would be tricky and we all commented ‘blimey if this rally was ever wet this would be incredible’ and it was this year.
“And it’s given this opportunity of Rally2 cars in the powerstage points and Rally3 cars in the top 10 in stage victories so for me it’s a really good thing to have this and it’s a massive fan base, they seem to have very positive, proactive fans, so yeah I hope we come back at least a couple more times.”