Croatia: Is the rally already over?

This was to be expected, but the classification at the end of the first group of special stages confirms what many feared. The running orders played a major role and the differences are already significant. Will the afternoon loop reverse this trend? Will the rain predicted tomorrow turn everything upside down?

Published on 19/04/2024 à 13:16

Loïc ROCCI

0 View comments)

Croatia: Is the rally already over?

Has Thierry Neuville already taken an option for victory after only 4 SS? (Photo: Nikos Katikis/DPPI)

This was the main topic of discussion among the pilots before the departure of this 4e rally from Croatia to WRC. How much would the position on the road influence the results. The response came very quickly. On the 23,63 km from Krasic-Sosice, Thierry Neuville immediately isolated himself in the lead. However, the Belgian was not very satisfied with the behavior of his car. “ I had a lot of understeer and the grip was much lower than expected, he explained. I felt like the tires were overheating after 3 km. I didn't feel very well. » Taking advantage of his first position, the Belgian knew how to exploit a clean road, not hesitating to dive into the ropes. Each time, its Hyundai brought back earth and gravel on the road which hindered the progress of his followers. Continuing to benefit from this advantage, Thierry won again in two other stages, extending his lead to 8”6 over Elfyn Evans.

Second behind the i20, the Welshman also managed to do well, even if he was the first to suffer the pollution from Neuville. Considering as usual that there were things to improve, the pilot Toyota was the only rival not to waste too much time. Winner of SS2, Evans keeps the pressure on Neuville, but he is alone.

Absent since Monte-Carlo, Sébastien Ogier expected to suffer from his order of passage and he was not wrong. From SS1 the Haut-Alpin conceded a gap that he never managed to control. Pushed back to 21''5 behind the leader, the Frenchman will try to make up part of his deficit this afternoon, but he will undoubtedly have to deal with the state of the road again.

Ott Tänak et Adrien fourmaux also tried to limit the bleeding, but the Frenchman and the Estonian are respectively already at 37”3 and 41”6. It's even more disappointing for the other competitors in Rally1 since Takamoto Katsuta is 1'12'' behind Neuville and Andreas Mikkelsen 1'39''.

The same loop of 4 stages will be repeated this afternoon and there is no guarantee that the situation will be reversed. The first cars will certainly have a dirtier road than in the first round, but this will also be the case for the following crews. The chances that the positions in the rankings will not change are great, but the gaps are still likely to widen. Among the delayed competitors, several wished that the rain forecast for the 2e step is present in order to have opportunities to shake up the trend.

General ranking after ES4

 

Loïc ROCCI

Journalist specializing in rallying past, present and future... and with a southern accent

0 View comments)