Elfyn Evans looking for improvement at Rally Croatia
DOLGELLAU’s Elfyn Evans will aim to build on his Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally team’s positive start to the new hybrid era of the FIA World Rally Championship when the 2022 season resumes for round three of Rally Croatia from 22-24 april.
The team currently leads the constructors’ championship with Kalle Rovanperä leading the drivers’ standings after claiming the first GR YARIS Rally1 win at the previous round in Sweden in February.
Elfyn Evans has been among the frontrunners so far and will be keen to return to the podium in Croatia, where he featured in a thrilling final stage showdown with team-mate Sébastien Ogier when the country made its WRC debut there. a year ago.
As the event is not part of Ogier’s selected rally program for 2022, Esapekka Lappi once again completes the TGR WRT field after finishing third on her return to Sweden. Fourth in Sweden, Takamoto Katsuta, who continues his full campaign with the TGR WRT Next Generation on a rally on which he won two stages in 2021.
After the two winter rounds in Monte Carlo and Sweden, Croatia offers the first test on pure asphalt for the new Rally1 cars. The event is based in Zagreb, the capital, with stages taking place close to neighboring Slovenia. The roads are characterized by a wide variety of different types of asphalt, which means that grip levels are constantly changing. Many sections are fast and flowing and include jumps and ridges, while others are more technical and twisty.
After the shakedown on Thursday morning and a ceremonial start in Zagreb in the evening, the rally begins on Friday with the longest stage of the event, consisting of two four-stage loops all familiar from the 2021 event. Much of Saturday takes place in similar territory just southwest of Zagreb, but there is also a longer trip to the Adriatic coast near Rijeka for the new stage of Platak. Like Friday, the four stages are repeated after the midday service. The final day takes place north of the capital and includes another new stage, Trakošćan – Vrbno, which is raced twice with Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec hosting the end-of-rally Power Stage.
Evans said: “It’s been quite a long break since the last rally, so it feels good to get back in the car for some testing and getting ready for Croatia. For me, it’s not the start of the year that we wanted by far and we have to look ahead and focus on performance in the events to come.
“Croatia is not an easy rally, but it was a good rally for us last year and I hope we can have a good run again. There are some things from last year that we have tried to learn from in order to have a car that is suitable for all the different conditions. During our testing, we had a particularly slippery road, similar to what we will encounter in rallying, and it was a good place to work on some options.