Ogier fastest on Croatia shakedown

The 2021 rally winner heads Toyota team-mate Evans, with Hyundai pairing joint-third fastest


Sébastien Ogier set the fastest time on shakedown for Rally Croatia, round four of the World Rally Championship season.

The majority of drivers set their quickest time on their second pass of the stage, though Ogier’s Toyota team-mate Elfyn Evans made a late improvement on his third and final attempt to go 0.7 seconds off the eight-time world champion’s pace.

Hyundai had set the early pace on the first runs, with Ott Tänak initially fastest on the first pass but ending up 1.4s off the top spot.

The 2019 world champion was keen to temper expectations: “Maybe it’s not the moment to be really confident considering our start to the year,” said Tänak who, starting fifth on the road tomorrow, faces a less than ideal road position.

“We’ll try to be efficient this weekend. The first target is to have a clean weekend, but it was the same in Kenya,” he added, referencing his early retirement after striking a rock in the middle of the road.

Championship leader Thierry Neuville was joint-third fastest, setting an identical time to his team-mate Tänak.

Adrien Fourmaux was the lead M-Sport car once more, 2.5s off his compatriot’s benchmark time.

“I have good lines in front so that’s quite good,” said Fourmaux, referencing the fact he’ll start behind Neuville and Evans in the road order on Friday.


Fourmaux is feeling confident before the action begins for real on Friday

One of the few moments of drama from shakedown was delivered by Andreas Mikkelsen: on his first attempt he overshot the second apex of a left-right-left chicane, sliding onto the grass and narrowly missing a pole.

Mikkelsen was the only Rally1 driver to complete four passes of shakedown, going sixth-quickest and 3.2s off the fastest time.

Takamoto Katsuta in the third Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 was seventh, 3.5s off the pace, while M-Sport’s Grégoire Munster was last of the top-tier cars, a further 2.2s slower than Katsuta.

“I found Rally Croatia already very difficult in Rally2 and in Rally1 everything is coming even faster,” Munster remarked. “It’s not a bad feeling with the car; I was too careful, but I’m quite confident.”

Yohan Rossel was fastest of the WRC2 contenders, 0.4s up on his Citroën team-mate Nikolay Gryazin. Sami Pajari was third-fastest but isn’t registered for points this week; Pepe López, who was in a titanic three-way scrap with Rossel and Gryazin for WRC2 victory in Monte, was 1.3s off Rossel’s pace.