Ogier's masterclass in Croatia

21 abril 2024

Sébastien Ogier and Vicent Landais won the Croatia Rally, in another demonstration of class from the former World Champion. The Toyota duo took advantage of mistakes by Elfyn Evans (Toyota) and Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) on the final leg of the Croatian event, which precedes the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans fought an intense duel on the first 17 asphalt stages around the Croatian capital, Zagreb. However, both made compromising mistakes on Sunday's second stage (PEC 18), when Neuville took a hit that ripped the rear wing off his Hyundai and Evans also missed a corner, spinning and losing 20 seconds.

Ogier, who was 11.6s off the lead before that special, avoided the mistakes of his opponents and managed to move into the lead, then managed the advantage to take his first win of the year - he had been second in Monte Carlo - and the 100th podium of his WRC career.

"It was a tough weekend. We knew we'd struggle with our starting position, but we never gave up and kept the pressure on throughout the race. I don't think I've ever had so many scares on a single rally, but it's great to get this win for the team," said Ogier, who will now try to tie Markku Alén's record of wins (five) on the Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Evans still managed second place, 9.7s behind his teammate, and Neuville was third, on a day when Adrien Fourmaux (M-Sport Ford) won a Power Stage for the first time, ahead of Ott Tänak (Hyundai). The Estonian, however, was once again unable to fight for victory and finished fourth, ahead of Takamoto Katsuta (Toyota).

With these results, and with the current WRC scoring system, Neuville maintains his six-point lead over Evans in the World Championship, with Sébastien Ogier climbing into the top five behind Fourmaux and Tänak.

In WRC2, a clear win for the Bulgarian - of Russian origin - Nikolay Gryazin (Citroën), ahead of Yohan Rossel (Citroën) and Pepe López (Skoda). Estonian Romet Jurgenson (Ford) won in Rally3, with Mattéo Chatillon (Renault) and Filip Kohn (Ford) also on the WRC3 podium in Croatia.

The fifth round of the FIA World Rally Championship, the Vodafone Rally de Portugal takes place from May 9 to 12.

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