Tue 26 Apr 2022

View from the service park - Croatia

Picnics seem to have gone out of fashion in Croatia.

At least at this time of the year. There weren’t nearly as many ‘picnicking’ folk in and around Zagreb as there were 12 months ago.

What are we talking about?

Going for a picnic was the most common response from the people out and about last year. And who could blame them?

Spring time on the banks of the Sava river or in the foothills of the Medvednica mountains is spectacular, refreshing and rewarding. Especially when the world’s fastest rally drivers might just happen to be thundering by your chosen spot for a spot of lunch al fresco.

Last year’s Croatia Rally was dedicated a no-spectator event, but the authorities were still allowing families and friends to gather for a picnic as part of their Covid-19 restrictions. Like we said, lots of picnics…..

At the weekend, spectators weren’t just allowed, they were welcomed back with arms wide open. And they came in their hundreds of thousands.

And they came from everywhere, from Slovenia, from Hungary, Germany, France, the UK, even from as far away as Toronto in Canada.

Croatia’s debut in the WRC last season was sublime, delivering captivating competition and an absorbing atmosphere.

This time around the competition was even more intriguing - difficult as that is to imagine following a 2021 Sébastien Ogier win measured in tenths of a second over Elfyn Evans.

This year’s weather-related storylines kept umbrellas up through much of Friday, but the weekend delivered a sunshine and showers mix that demonstrated the full range of stunning countryside vistas, while also offering a world of opportunity for those willing to roll the dice and gamble on tyre selection.

Put simply, it was a great rally. And a great place.

Briton Neil Simpson was making his Croatian debut with Toksport’s WRC2 Škoda squad. He couldn’t get enough of the place.

“It’s fantastic,” he said. “I thought I’d seen it all with Tarmac rallies, but this is on another level again. But it’s not just the stages, they’ve such great people here and so, so many fans. I’ve loved it. I’ll be first on the plane back here next year.”

Simpson’s view was upheld throughout the service park. People can’t get enough of Croatia. It’s somewhere and something different and when you’re not having to focus on sandwiches and picnic baskets, it’s even better!

Video: Croatia Rally review
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