It’s remarkable that in the 13 months of pandemic-restricted travel, motorsport has taken me to five-and-a-half countries for the first time in my life: Estonia, San Marino, Barbados, Saudi Arabia, the Arctic Circle [that’s the half] and now Croatia.
Not knowing what to expect from the latest country to host a World Rally Championship round, I quizzed some colleagues who’d been there previously to photograph European Rally Championship rallies.
“It’s all narrow asphalt, in thick forest” they said. “Not great for pictures.”
How wrong could they be.
Sure, there was plenty of single-track roads between the trees, but boy was it dynamic and fully three-dimensional. I have never seen so many crests and big jumps on an asphalt rally. And in terms of competition it was one of the most dramatic, close-fought, three-way battles ever. I truly hope Croatia finds a permanent slot on the WRC calendar; it’s proved itself worthy.
If it doesn’t, then I would definitely visit for a holiday – it’s a beautifully clean country, full of ultra-friendly and helpful people. A lot of those people came to see the rally, or have a picnic beside a rally stage – depending on your viewpoint on an event where spectators were officially banned. Taking precautions to protect myself, I was happy to see some colour back on the stages. It was a throwback to 14 months ago.