Tue 31 Oct 2023

Czech it out: Prague's historic first for WRC

If you were a rally fan in Prague last Thursday, knowing where to look must have been something of an issue. FIA World Rally Championship stars were here, there and everywhere.

Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans, team-mates and absolute rivals in terms of the fight for this year’s title, were sitting enjoying the sunshine in a café at one side of the Prague Castle square.

Over there? Thierry Neuville taking a coffee with his team and acknowledging Ott Tänak who’s strolling through the centre with his jacket over his arm. It was something of a surreal moment.

And that’s before Czech Republic president Petr Pavel stepped out from behind his desk to come see what all the fuss was about. Having the nation’s premier as such a fervent supporter of the WRC’s latest addition wasn’t lost on the massed ranks of fans who not only built the atmosphere, but understood the importance of what was happening.

Austria and Germany have both featured in the WRC before, but this was the moment Czech fans had been dreaming of.

The ceremonial start delivered on those dreams. And the action that followed didn’t disappoint as one of the most engaging and action-packed WRC rounds in recent history. And to have Kalle Rovanperä and Jonne Halttunen and Andreas Mikkelsen and Torstein Eriksen both celebrating their second world titles was the cherry on the cake that was the Central European Rally.

Having completed the mileage in the Czech Republic, it was time for the first of numerous border crossings as the event landed into Germany for the Passau service park. The weekend stages hopped to and fro across the German-Austrian border in increasingly sunny conditions.

At the end of every day, Passau was the place to be. But you had to be in early. Outside every team, it was packed to tune of 10-deep when the cars came in.

The combined culture of these three countries allied to some of the most picturesque autumn alpine backdrops helped build an unforgettable week.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM