The Slovakian star established himself as one of the drivers to watch in 2021 and had led the fiercely contested category for more than half of the rally.
Despite his impressive efforts to fend off competition from Finnish youngster Lauri Joona and eventual winner Jon Armstrong, Koči suffered a puncture during SS14 and finished fourth after losing around two and a half minutes.
“We had a little problem with the brakes on SS13,” Koči explained. “I’m not saying we lost them, but the pedal was quite soft and we lost some amount from our lead.
“On the next stage, I was maybe trying to push too much. In a fast uphill section, I went wide and touched the rear right wheel which broke the rim, so we had to stop and change it.
“It’s a little disappointing for sure, but the whole of Friday and the first half of Saturday was looking really good. We were leading with quite a good margin and I was happy with the pace and how it was going,” he added.
At 28-years-old, Koči is one the more seasoned challengers in this year’s crop of Junior hopefuls. He previously competed in the series from 2012 to 2014 and also in 2016 when he finished second.
Best of action: Croatia Rally
“Croatia was the first WRC event for me after four years, so it actually felt like something new again. I am coming back really quickly and I feel that I am very different as a driver to how I was before,” he said.
Koči is hoping to bounce back with a top result at the next round this month (20 - 23 May) in Portugal. The Matosinhos-based event holds good memories for the Fiesta man after he finished second there in 2016.