FIA World Rally ChampionshipJunior WRCWRC2WRC3

Rovanperä, Rossel, Laszlo and Joona Claim Class Wins in Croatia

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Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

As the FIA World Rally Championship round three have come to an end at the second running of the Rally Croatia, it was the current championship leader Kalle Rovanperä who won it and claimed his second win of the season on the Sunday afternoon.

The event was struck with rain falls over the whole weekend, on early Sunday it was clear skies but when the last loop was about to start more rain came and made up a hard challenge for the tire choices.

Due to Rovanperä selecting the wrong tires for the remaining stages and also lost the lead to Hyundai Motorsport’s Ott Tänak on the second-to-last stage by 1.4 seconds.

However as the wolf power stage was up next, it was all or nothing for the Toyota Gazoo Racing driver and with his poor tire choice it would be a hard task to claim the rally win but with a remarkable drive Rovanperä managed to the unthinkable and beated Tänak by 5.7 seconds to claim the rally win and his fourth win of his WRC career, now Rovanperä has a large lead in the drivers’ championship with 29 points and looks to be one of the favorite title contenders for the year.

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

The Estonian finished in second place alongside his teammate Thierry Neuville who almost rolled the car on the last stage, despite that scary moment Neuville still remained in third place.

M-Sport Ford World Rally Team’s new signing Craig Breen claimed the fourth place despite having a spin and Toyota’s Elfyn Evans ended up with good results in fifth and marked his first points of the season, and Toyota’s development driver Takamoto Katsuta rounded up with a solid sixth place.

Lower down in the overall standings were M-Sport’s Gus Greensmith and Pierre-Louis Loubet, and Toyota’s Esapekka Lappi, who all have had problems thoughout the weekend. M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux and Hyundai’s Oliver Solberg had to retire from the event due to accidents.

Rossel Claimed His First WRC2 Career Win

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

In the support category of the Rally2 cars in WRC2 it was the Frenchman Yohan Rossel who claimed his first-ever career win in the class by dominating the class.

The Citroen C3 Rally2 driver took an early advantage in the class by leading the rally from day one as the other competitors faced problems on the tricky first day. The reigning WRC3 champion had same great pace on the second day despite heavy rain and muddy cuts posed a severe tyre damage risk.

Rossel had a 35.1 seconds lead over the Russian Nikolay Gryazin ahead of the final but on the second-to-last stage Gryazin fell down the order due to poorly tire choice and that meant Rossel could just cruise through the power stage to win the rally with just over a minute lead.

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

The returning Polish driver Kajetan Kajetanowicz took the advantage of that and claimed the second place meanwhile the Finn Emil Lindholm despite having an eventful rally with a lot of issues ended up in third place.

Gryazin brought home the Skoda Fabia Rally2 evo in fourth place followed by the Britoin Chris Ingram in fifth, Ingram was one of the headliners on Saturday when he posted a top 3 overall time on one of the stages. The two Frenchmens of Stéphane Lefebvre and Eric Camilli rounded-up in sixth and seventh respectively.

Laszlo Took a Surprising WRC3 Win as Pajari Crashed

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

The Hungarian youngster Zoltán László took a surprising WRC3 win in his four-wheel-drive Ford Fiesta Rally3 machinery as the points leader Sami Pajari had to retire from the rally on the final day.

László looked to claim a runner-up spot in the rally as the Finn had a comfortably lead by 22 minutes and 27.1 seconds heading into the last day but he slided off the roadduring the Zagorska Sela – Kumrovec stage, which promoted László into the lead. 

László managed to drive carefully on the last remaining stages and claimed his first WRC3 win by 35.6 seconds ahead of Enrico Brazzoli who was set to win the rally if he hadn’t faced a 40 seconds penalty for a late check-in on day two.

The local Croatian Ivica Siladić claimed the third place ahead of William Creighton who had to restart the rally on Saturday after crashing out on the opening day, the Kenyan Mcrae Kimathi alongside Pajari were the two who had to retire from the rally.

Joona Tied On Points with Armstrong in JWRC After the Croatia Triumph

Credit: Junior WRC / M-Sport

The Flying Finn Lauri Joona took the Junior WRC class win as the fellow Finn Pajari and Robert Virves had to retire from the rally. Joona was looking to take the third place as both Pajari and Virves were trading the lead position throughout the two-first days.

Virves was leading the rally after the opening day by a small margin of 0.7 seconds over the regining champion Pajari, but Pajari managed to re-take the lead after stage ten and had a 49.1 seconds lead going in to the final day as Virves picked up a costly puncture.

As reported above in the WRC3 class, Pajari had to retire on the final day which promoted Virves back up to the lead and the victory was in sight when the power stage was up next. A really costly mistake made Virves to receive a four minute penalty for checking in early at the regroup before the stage and that handed the win to Joona meanwhile Virves had to take a disappointing second place.

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Joona is leading the championship tied on 47 points with Jon Armstrong, who won the opening-round in Rally Sweden in February.

The championship returnee Jean-Baptiste Franceschi rounded-up on the podium in third meanwhile the early rally leader Armstrong took the fourth place as he had to restart the rally on Saturday after going off on day one. As mentioned in the WRC3 report, Creighton rounded up in fifth in the JWRC classification meanwhile Mcrae and Pajari had to retire.

Next up is Rally de Portugal on 19-22 May which will be the first gravel rally of the calendar.

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Covering rally, rallycross & other motorsport news for The Checkered Flag with over 8 years of experience working with all sorts of media & PR related things in motorsport. To bring all the latest news from different series to our wonderful readers on The Checkered Flag is always a pleasure for me.
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