Rally Croatia was supposed to be a tarmac event. But when heavy rain during the first leg hit the Zagreb region, the usual corner cutting transformed the twisty mountain roads into a mixture of gravel bed and mud hole, with occasional aquaplaning thrown in. As a consequence, numerous spins and punctures shook up the classification.
Initially, Chris Ingram/Craig Drew were the fastest ŠKODA crew. But the FIA European Rally Champion from 2019 and his new co-driver were delayed by a puncture and turbo charger issues. Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov took over and brought their ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo in second WRC2 position to Friday’s finish. Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak from Poland followed in fourth ahead of Finns Emil Lindholm/Reeta Hämäläinen in another ŠKODA and the unlucky Britons Ingram and Drew in sixth.
Saturday’s leg brought more changes. When interim third Eric Camilli suffered a puncture, the ŠKODA trio of Kajetanowicz, Lindholm and Ingram gained one position each. During the final leg on Sunday, Kajetan Kajetanowicz/Maciej Szczepaniak advanced to second place in WRC2. But fastest WRC2 driver of Sunday was Emil Lindholm. The reigning Finnish Rally Champion at the wheel of a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo won three of the day’s four stages including the Power Stage, which brought him three extra points. He closed the gap to Kajetanowicz to less than ten seconds, but in the end had to be content with third position in the WRC2 Open classification.
After all, Lindholm’s performance was rewarded with victory in the WRC2 Junior rankings. Top spot in the WRC2 Masters class for drivers over 50 years of age also went to a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo crew: Armin Kremer and Rally-Dakar-winning co-driver Timo Gottschalk from Germany. Italians Mauro Miele/Luca Beltrame, also in a ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, finished third. Miele defended his lead in the WRC2 Masters overall rankings.
After three rounds, Andreas Mikkelsen (ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo) remains leader of the WRC2 drivers’ standings. ŠKODA Motorsport supported Team Toksport WRT holds the first position in the teams’ classification.
Next stop for the FIA World Rally Championship is Porto on the Atlantic coast, home of Vodafone Rally de Portugal (19-22 May 2022).
Result Rally Croatia (WRC2)
|1.||Rossel/Sarreaud (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2||2:28:22.5 hrs.|
|2.||Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo||+1:00.2 min|
|3.||Lindholm/Hämäläinen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo||+1:10.9 min|
|4.||Gryazin/Aleksandrov (ANA/ANA), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo||+1:47.5 min|
|5.||Ingram/Drew (GBR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo||+2:32.7 min|
|6.||Lefebvre/Malfoy (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2||+3:18.0 min|
Number of the rally: 20
Twenty ŠKODA FABIA in Rally2 spec started Rally Croatia. In other words: 30 per cent of all competitors in all categories put their trust in the reliable rally car from Mladá Boleslav.