Toyota: Extend the lead in Croatia with three Yaris?  / WRC

Toyota: Extend the lead in Croatia with three Yaris? / WRC

The Toyota Gazoo World Rally Championship team aims once again to conquer the challenging asphalt roads of the Croatian Raceway in the fourth round of the 2024 FIA World Rally Championship from April 18 to 21.

Since Croatia was first added to the WRC schedule three years ago, TGR-WRT has claimed victory in multiple editions with three different drivers. Two of these riders return as part of the squad for this year’s event: 2021 winner Sébastien Ogier will join 2023 winner Elfyn Evans and top-three finisher Takamoto Katsuta as runners-up at the start of Croatia this season .

After a record-breaking win at Safari Rally Kenya, TGR-WRT leads the Manufacturers’ championship by four points, with Evans just six points behind in the Drivers’ championship.

The conference will continue to take place in the Croatian capital Zagreb – although this year the venue is moving to a new location in the Westgate business center northwest of the city centre. The tests are taking place in the north of the country, near neighboring Slovenia, on roads with different types of asphalt. This means that the grip level is constantly changing, which can be made more difficult by rain and mud. Some parts are technical and twisty, while others are fast and flow with jumps and curves.

After the shakedown and festivities begin on Thursday, the rally begins its longest day on Friday. Four stages take the rally south-west of Zagreb to the coastal town of Rijeka, where there is an opportunity to change tires at lunchtime. After the pit stop, the same four routes will be covered in reverse order on the way back to Zagreb in the afternoon.

Saturday follows a more traditional format, with a series of four decisions west and south of Zagreb, run twice on each side of the lunch service. As usual, the final will take place on Sunday north of Zagreb, where two stages will be run twice, with Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec once again hosting the Power Stage to conclude the meeting.

There are four GR Yaris Rally2 cars on the grid in Croatia, including Sami Pajari (Printsport) and Georg Linnamäe (Team RedGrey), as well as TGR WRC Challenge Program duo Yuki Yamamoto and Hikaru Kogure, who are registered to fight for WRC2 points. . .

Team boss Jari-Matti Latvala: “Our victory in Kenya was the result of the hard work of the whole team. So this result was good for the morale of the team and gives us more motivation for the upcoming events when it is very important for the championship. We’ve done well in Croatia in the past and overall it feels good to be back there. When it’s dry, driving on the road can be very pleasant, but we know that the weather can also play a big role and make it very difficult. We know the GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid was strong on the tarmac, but we recognize that the competition is constantly making strides. In this case, the skill of the driver and the change in grip levels can make the difference, and that comes from having confidence in the car. So our aim is to give our drivers that confidence and hopefully get a lot of points at the end of the weekend.

World Cup runner-up Elfin Evans: “Our start to the season was solid and we got good points from every round. We have had three unique events with specific challenges and now we come to the regular European meetings on tarmac and gravel, we need to focus on increasing these. Last year went well for us on the tarmac, including in Croatia, so it is a rally we are looking forward to. We know this is a tricky meeting as holding levels vary and it is very easy to make mistakes. So we have to try to run a clean meeting, but at the same time we know that we have to go quickly to fight forward.”

Interim pilot Sébastien Ogier: “I have enjoyed my time off since Monte-Carlo and now I am looking forward to getting back into competition. My test last week was a good opportunity to feel the car again, as the road was very demanding: very fast with jumps and narrow sections. These are also features of the rally, but we also know that the weather can be unpredictable at this time of year. We don’t have the right conditions for a pitch meeting, so we have to assess the situation and see what we can do. My main motivation is always to get on the podium and fight for the win, but I’m also here to help the team and with the new points system we can see that Sunday is now more important than ever.”

Kenyan runner-up Takamoto Katsuta: “After my performance in Rally Japan last year and Monte Carlo this year, I feel more and more confident on the tarmac. However, Croatia is one of the most difficult meetings because there are many face changes. Being able to fully engage when the road is dirty is an area where I can still improve my riding on the tarmac and I would like to use this event as an opportunity to make further progress. It will not be an easy meeting, especially with the chance to start on Friday and even more so if it rains. “So it may be important to be patient at first and then try to find a good rhythm and balance to be able to push hard.” (Toyota)

World Drivers’ Championship – Standings after 3 of 13 rounds


Team/Nat/Car (Sweden)



Thierry Neuville (B), Hyundai



Elfin Evans (GB), Toyota



Adrien Fourmaux (F), Ford



Ott Tänak (EE), Hyundai



Kalle Rovanperä (FIN), Toyota



Takamoto Katsuta (J), Toyota



Sébastien Ogier (F), Toyota



Esapekka Lappi (FIN), Toyota



Oliver Solberg (S), Skoda Rally2



Andreas Mikkelsen (N), Hyundai


World Championship of Manufacturers – Standings after 3 of 13 rounds





Toyota Gazoo WRT Racing



Hyundai Shell Mobis WRT



M-Sport Ford WRT