Toyota Gazoo Racing makes asphalt return in Croatia

BY Sean Loo

Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team heads to the Croatia Rally for the fourth round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season on April 21-23, 2023.

Considered the first pure asphalt round of the season, the Croatia Rally joined the WRC schedule two years ago and the varied roads around the country’s capital city, Zagreb, are already seen as some of the most challenging on the calendar.

With the service park located within Zagreb itself, the stages take place in the north of Croatia close to neighbouring Slovenia. The roads feature a wide variety of different asphalt types, which means that available grip is constantly shifting, while mud and rain can bring about further challenges. Some sections are technical and twisting, but many others are fast and flowing with jumps and crests.

Much of the route for this year is familiar from 2022. After the shakedown on Thursday morning and a ceremonial start in Zagreb that evening, Friday’s opening day action takes place just to the west of the city.

All four stages are repeated after mid-day service, creating the rally’s longest day in terms of competitive distance, standing at 130.18 kilometres. The second stage of the loop (Stojdraga – Hartje) has been extended to 25.67 km, making it the longest of the weekend.

Saturday sees the teams venture much further south-west, towards the city of Rijeka on the Adriatic coast, with another repeated loop of four stages that takes in the only new test for this year: Ravna Gora – Skrad.

The final day on Sunday is held to the north of Zagreb, with a pair of stages run twice; Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec hosting the rally-ending Power Stage for the third year in succession.

Sébastien Ogier will make his third start of the year following historic victories on Rallye Monte-Carlo and Rally México that have made him the championship leader, while Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans are only 4 and 12 points from the lead respectively following consistent starts to their campaigns.

Takamoto Katsuta will drive a GR Yaris Rally in Croatia with the support of the TGR WRC Challenge Program.

Unfortunately, we were all shocked at the news of Craig Breen’s incident and passing. The Burnpavement team sends our deepest condolences to his family and to his team, Hyundai Motorsport.