One phenomenon is common to tarmac rallies: By cutting the corners, the competitors drag stones and sand onto the roads, each car leaving the racing line increasingly slippery. The first ever FIA World Rally Championship event in Croatia especially lived up to this reputation, the gravel polluted corners causing numerous spins and offs.
Among the victims were Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Fløene. The ŠKODA Motorsport supported Norwegians lost roughly 40 minutes already on Friday, when a minor slide off the road broke a suspension arm of the Toksport WRT ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo. Only their very own skills as mechanics kept them in the competition. Mikkelsen/Fløene eventually reached the finish fifth in WRC2, collecting five extra points for the Powerstage win on the way. At least, that was enough to defend the points lead in the category. In contrast, Toksport WRT team mates Marco Bulacia (BOL) and co-driver Marcelo Der Ohannesian (ARG) enjoyed a trouble-free rally. The South American youngsters reached the finish third in WRC2, scoring their very first category podium. Bulacia progresses to second position in WRC2 drivers’ overall standings, giving Toksport WRT crews a double lead after three rallies of the 2021 season.
For a couple of stages, ŠKODA Motorsport customer crews occupied the top three spots in WRC3. That was down to two, when on Sunday morning 2019 FIA European Rally Champions Chris Ingram/Ross Whittock (GBR/GBR) parked their SXM Competition ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo for a minute off the road. Avoiding similar problems, a Polish and a Finnish duo took the honours for the Czech brand. Kajetan Kajetanowicz and co-driver Maciej Szczepaniak won the category for LOTOS Rally Team, beating Emil Lindholm/Mikael Korhonen in Toksport WRT’s ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo by over a minute. Ingram/Whittock eventually made it to the finish in category fifth.
For the next 2021 round, the FIA World Rally Championship travels to the far west of Europe. Vodafone Rally Portugal brings the action to the seaside town of Porto from 20 to 23 May.
Result Rally Croatia (WRC2)
1. Østberg/Eriksen (NOR/NOR), Citroën C3 Rally2, 3:01:23.7 hrs.
2. Suninen/Markkula (FIN/FIN), Ford Fiesta Rally2 Mk2, +28.5 sec.
3. Bulacia/Der Ohannesian (BOL/ARG), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +2:02.7 min.
4. Brazzoli/Barone (ITA/ITA), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +29:10.3 min.
5. Mikkelsen/Fløene (NOR/NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +39:42.2 min.
Championship Standings WRC2/Drivers (after 3 rounds)
1. Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 68 points
2. Marco Bulacia (BOL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 33 points
3. Esapekka Lappi (FIN), VW Polo GTI Rally2, 29 points
Result Rally Croatia (WRC3)
1. Kajetanowicz/Szczepaniak (POL/POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 3:03:23.8 hrs.
2. Lindholm/Korhonen (FIN/FIN), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +1:14.6 min.
3. Rossel/Coria (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, +2:41.4 min.
4. Ciamin/Roche (FRA/FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, +3:04.6 min.
5. Ingram/Whittock (GBR/GBR), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, +2:53.3 min.
Championship Standings WRC3/Drivers (after 3 rounds)
1. Yohan Rossel (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 48 points
2. Nicolas Ciamin (FRA), Citroën C3 Rally2, 36 points
3. Kajetan Kajetanowicz (POL), ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo, 28 points
Number of the day: 8.9
When an eventful Rally Croatia came to a close, Andreas Mikkelsen and co-driver Ola Fløene definitely had a point to prove. The two Norwegians powered the Toksport WRT ŠKODA FABIA Rally2 evo a whopping 8.9 seconds faster than the next WRC2 competitor through the rally ending Powerstage. The masterful drive secured Mikkelsen five extra points for his WRC2 title campaign.
2021 FIA World Rally Championship
Rallye Monte-Carlo 21 – 24 January
Arctic Rally Finland powered by CapitalBox 26 – 28 February
Rally Croatia 22 – 25 April
Vodafone Rally Portugal 20 – 23 May
Rally Italia Sardegna 3 – 6 June
Safari Rally Kenya 24 – 27 June
Rally Estonia 15 – 18 July
Renties Ypres Rally Belgium 13 – 15 August
Acropolis Rally Greece 9 – 12 September
Rally Finland 30 September – 3 October
RallyRACC Rally de España 14 – 17 October
Rally Japan 11 –14 November