WRC - Sébastien Ogier and Vincent Landais claim Croatia Rally win on extraordinary Sunday

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2024 Croatia Rally - Sunday report

Sébastien Ogier jumped from third to first overall on a dramatic Sunday at Croatia Rally, claiming a surprise win as Thierry Neuville and Elfyn Evans faced heartbreak.

After three days of neck and neck competition on spectator-packed asphalt roads around capital city Zagreb, victory looked set to be decided between Neuville, driving a Hyundai i20 N, and Welshman Evans in a Toyota GR Yaris. However, as they headed into the second stage of this final day separated by just 2.6sec, the tables suddenly turned.

A late pace note meant overnight leader Neuville arrived too fast into a left-hander and slid wide before riding up a bank and into a tree. The impact destroyed his Hyundai’s rear aerodynamics package but, more importantly, cost him almost 25sec.

Unaware of his rival’s problem, Evans misjudged a tightening right-hand bend in the very same stage and spun, dropping 20sec as he tried to get his car pointing in the right direction. It meant that Ogier, who had occupied third place since the opening stage on Friday morning, suddenly gained a 9.1sec lead with two stages remaining.

Unlike his peers, Ogier made no such errors and kept Toyota team-mate Evans at bay – celebrating his second Croatia Rally triumph by 9.7sec along with a milestone 100th WRC podium.

"It's been a tough weekend,” admitted Ogier, who was co-driven by Vincent Landais. “We knew coming here that our start position would be an issue, but we never gave up and kept the pressure on for the whole weekend. I don’t think I’ve ever had so many moments in one rally, but it's nice to get the win for the team.”

Toyota’s 1-2 result extended the Japanese marque's lead in the manufacturers’ championship to seven points over Hyundai. But all was not lost for Neuville, who nursed his battered car to the end 36.1sec behind Evans in third.

The 18 points Neuville earned by leading on Saturday evening helped to retain his drivers’ series lead, and he heads Evans by six points after round four of 13.

“It is what it is,” Neuville reflected. “We had a great few days, but unfortunately today didn't go so well. At the end we're taking important points so it's not so bad. We would have liked to push harder in the Power Stage but these cars without a rear wing are undriveable.”

Ott Tänak had a high-speed scare in SS18 when his Hyundai mounted a grass embankment, but the Estonian recovered quickly to secure a fourth-place finish. He initially faced pressure from M-Sport Ford hotshot Adrien Fourmaux before the Frenchman plummeted down the order after damaging his Puma’s steering, hitting an anti-cut marker on the same test that caught out Neuville and Evans.

Takamoto Katsuta claimed the maximum seven points available for being the fastest driver across Super Sunday, climbing to fifth in his Toyota after Fourmaux’s troubles. Andreas Mikkelsen and Grégoire Munster were sixth and seventh.

Triumphant Gryazin maintains Citroën’s perfect Croatia WRC2 record

Nikolay Gryazin romped his way to WRC2 victory on Sunday, maintaining French manufacturer Citröen’s perfect record in Zagreb.

With 39.5sec in hand over his C3 Rally2 team-mate Yohan Rossel coming into Sunday, Bulgarian driver Gryazin applied a risk-free approach to the weekend’s final four asphalt speed tests – cruising to the final time control 38.5sec clear of the field and eight in the overall classification. Citroën cars have now topped the WRC2 rostrum in every WRC Croatia Rally edition.

"It feels really nice, especially with all the work we did before this event," Gryazin beamed. "I just need to drive like this more often, I need to remember this feeling."

Rossel could also afford to take a similar approach with more than two minutes separating himself from third-placed Pepe López, who was locked into a nip and tuck battle with Nicolas Ciamin for the final podium spot.

Campaigning a Hyundai i20 N Rally2, Ciamin started the final leg just 10.8sec down on López’s Škoda Fabia RS Rally2 but a brief spin 1.2km into the day’s opener cost the Frenchman five seconds and put paid to his podium aspirations.

2022 WRC3 champion Lauri Joona looked set to claim his first-ever top-five WRC2 finish but was caught out on Sunday's second stage, being forced to stop and change a tyre. That dropped him to sixth and opened the door for Eyvind Brynildsen, who was making his first appearance since EKO Acropolis Rally Greece two years ago.

Emil Lindholm's weekend-long issues continued on Sunday when his Hyundai i20 N Rally2 lost power on SS18, but he was able to hold off Roberto Daprá and finish seventh.

In ninth was the Fabia RS Rally2 of Armin Kremer, who fulfilled his goal of winning the WRC Masters' Cup category.

WRC hits the gravel next month for Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Round five of the season is based in Matosinhos and takes place from 9 – 12 May.

Flawless Jürgenson secures maiden WRC3 win in Croatia

Romet Jürgenson and co-driver Siim Oja celebrated their first WRC3 victory on Sunday at Croatia Rally having virtually led the asphalt event from start to finish.

Twenty-four-year-old Jürgenson was launched into the lead on Friday morning when early pacesetter Ali Türkkan rolled his similar Ford Fiesta Rally3 car. He controlled the rally ever since, racking up an impressive haul of seven stage wins en-route to a 1min 33.7sec winning margin. There was double delight for the Estonian as he also took out victory in the FIA Junior WRC category.

Mattéo Chatillon cranked up the tempo over the final kilometres and climbed from fourth to second on his WRC3 debut. Piloting a Renault Clio Rally3 among a swarm of M-Sport Poland-built Fiestas, Chatillon pipped Filip Kohn to the runner-up spot by 20.8sec as Australia's Taylor Gill fell to fourth.