First look at Croatia route as rally aims to have fans

DirtFish can reveal more about WRC 2021's all-new third round and its ambitions to let spectators back on the stages

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The organizers of Croatia’s debuting round of the World Rally Championship are looking to become the first event to bring fans back to the stages since September last year.

The full route for the Croatia Rally will be revealed next week, but president of the organizing committee Daniel Šaškin talked about how keen his team is to see people lining the route from April 22-25.

“We chose the trails carefully to avoid crowds, but also to enable the audience to be there and enjoy the attractive race,” he said.

“We hope that the epidemiological situation will allow that. The WRC is also an excellent opportunity to show the entire world the most beautiful parts of our country. There is no doubt that the competition will be exciting – both live and in front of screens.”

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That desire to bring people to Croatia for the nation’s inaugural WRC round was echoed by president of the Croatian national sporting authority (ASN) Davorin Štetner.

“With a huge international promotion, just imagine the economic effect for Croatia achieved by 10s of 1000s of overnight stays, local expenditures of participants and thousands of people engaged for the organization,” said Štetner.

“We hope that the situation at the end of April will allow spectators to be there. This would mean the arrival of many WRC fans from around the world. This is the best possible invitation before this year’s tourist season.”

September’s Rally Estonia was the last event to sell tickets to spectators, with Turkey, Italy, Monza and Monte Carlo all running with closed service parks and no public access to the stages due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Ahead of the formal route unveil, DirtFish can reveal a 22-stage, 188-mile route running across the full three days.

Thursday April 22 starts proceedings with a superspecial in the Zagreb Fair area. Nine more stages (two loops of four with superspecial repeated) on Friday; eight (two loops of four) on Saturday and two loops of two on Sunday.

The route passes through the counties of Zagreb, Karlovac and Krapina-Zagorje.

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Croatia’s arrival in the WRC comes with the blessing of FIA president Jean Todt, who hopes to be present on the third round of the WRC season.

At the rally’s launch last year, Todt said: “This is a special day for Croatia and I want to congratulate the Croatian Automobile and Karting Federation and its president Davorin Štetner on the continuous development which is the result of dedicated work.

“The support of the Croatian Government and the mayor of Zagreb have allowed for a successful entry into the calendar and I would like to thank them for that. I appreciate their help and dedication. I thank everyone and wish you a successful first edition of the WRC Croatia Rally.

“I hope to be with you and personally celebrate this great achievement that is excellent for your country.”

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