Croatia Rally: Day 1 Evans tied for the lead for TOYOTA GAZOO Racing

2024.4.19 (Fri)

TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team has two cars in a very close top three after the first day of the Croatia Rally, where Elfyn Evans is tied for the lead and Sébastien Ogier is just 6.6 seconds further back in third place.

Car 33 (Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin)
Car 33 (Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin)

This was the longest day of the rally, featuring 119.74 competitive kilometres. Four stages during the morning took the crews south-west from Zagreb towards the Adriatic Sea, and were then repeated in reverse order during the afternoon. Weather conditions were mainly dry and sunny, but rain and even snow during the days leading up to the rally meant grip levels were constantly changing.

In such conditions, road position was an important factor and Evans made good use of running second on the road, winning the second stage of the day to end the morning in second overall just 8.6s from the lead. Ogier faced dirtier conditions running sixth in the road order, so did well to hold third through the morning, which he ended 21.5s from the lead.

In the afternoon, Evans took another stage win in SS6, which moved him to within 0.1s of leader Thierry Neuville (Hyundai), and then claimed the rally lead in SS7 by a slim margin of 1.6s. That advantage was nullified in the day’s final test to leave the two championship rivals equal on overall time to a tenth of a second.

On his first day of competition since January’s Rallye Monte-Carlo, Ogier ended the afternoon very strongly, winning SS7 by just 0.3s over Evans before going quickest in SS8 by a staggering 9.2s, reducing his deficit to the lead by more than 10s.

Takamoto Katsuta is in sixth place overall, finishing a demanding day on a strong note with the fourth-best time since SS8.

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)

“It’s been a very interesting first day here in Croatia. After the opening stage, it looked like Neuville was maybe going to pull away but, step-by-step, our guys were getting faster and getting the confidence and at the end of the day we’re really satisfied. Elfyn is equal on time with Thierry and then Seb managed to also bring himself into the fight with a great performance on the last stage. It’s understandable that after nearly three months away he was taking it a bit steady at first, but you could clearly see his confidence growing over the day. Taka also started to improve a lot at the end of the day with some nice times, which was very positive to see. Tomorrow it’s quite likely that rain is coming, and on these roads with the mud and everything, it’s going to be very challenging for all the drivers.”

Elfyn Evans (Driver car 33)
“This morning especially the roads were getting dirtier with every car so that helped us to be faster than the guys behind but not quite as fast as Thierry. The first stage was quite slippery but through the morning we got a bit more comfortable and the pace started to come. It was a pretty good fight this afternoon after Thierry had a puncture: then the gap was very close, and it was just a matter of a few seconds either way in each stage. The car’s generally been good and the balance has been reasonable, but tomorrow could be quite different with the weather and we’re expecting a challenging day.”

Sébastien Ogier (Driver car 17)
“It’s been a good day for me, I’m really happy. I pushed quite hard all day and I’m quite satisfied with my driving and with the car: the feeling was great and it was really good fun to drive. We knew our road position would cost us some time and it did this morning. Then we had some bad luck with the weather at the start of the afternoon, but we managed to do this really good time on the last stage. This was very positive for us as it pushed us back into the fight. Tomorrow could be like the start of another rally with the weather forecast: on these dirty and slippery roads, the rain can make it very challenging.”

Takamoto Katsuta (Driver car 18)
“We knew that this rally can be very demanding, especially as the conditions get worse with every car because of the gravel and mud from the cuts. Still, I was struggling more than I expected this morning. It was not so easy to find the confidence and drive on the level that I wanted. During the whole day I was looking for ways to improve, and in the afternoon we made some changes to the car setup. After this I had a better feeling at the end of the day, and the last stage was much better. Tomorrow the conditions could be completely different, so it will be a new day and I will try to do my best again.”

End of day one (Friday):
1 Thierry Neuville/Martijn Wydaeghe (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) 1h05m15.3s
2 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +0.0s
3 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +6.6s
4 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +41.1s
5 Adrien Fourmaux/Alexandre Coria (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +52.7s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m37.8s
7 Andreas Mikkelsen/Torstein Eriksen (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +2m37.8s
8 Grégoire Munster/Louis Louka (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +3m07.3s
9 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Citroën C3 Rally2) +3m48.3s
10 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +4m19.4s
(Results as of 19:00 on Friday, for the latest results please visit

What's next?
Saturday runs to a more typical format than Friday, with a loop of four stages to the west and south of Zagreb to be run twice either side of mid-day service. A total of 108.76 competitive kilometres will be driven.

Elfyn Evans
Elfyn Evans
Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais)
Car 17 (Sébastien Ogier, Vincent Landais)
Car 18 (Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston)
Car 18 (Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston)

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