Thu 18 Apr 2024

Returning Ogier tops Croatia Rally shakedown

Sébastien Ogier announced his return to FIA World Rally Championship action by winning Thursday morning’s Croatia Rally shakedown.

Eight-time WRC champion Sébastien Ogier is back in action for the first time since the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo in January but wasted no time in getting back up to speed on the dry roads east of the capital city Zagreb.

The Frenchman was third-quickest on his first attempt at the 3.65km Okić test but shaved almost four seconds off his time to top the leaderboard on his second and penultimate run. His GR Yaris Rally1 team-mate Elfyn Evans was 0.7sec behind while Hyundai i20 N pair Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak set identical pace in third and fourth.

Ogier won the inaugural Croatia Rally in 2021, and his Toyota Gazoo Racing team has celebrated victory in every edition of the Balkan event.


“It is good to be back,” he said. “Two and a half months [away] is a very long time, but the [pre-event] test last week was useful, and I feel very happy here.”

M-Sport Ford driver Adrien Fourmaux is targeting his third consecutive WRC podium and started the rally strongly, placing his Puma Rally1 just 2.5sec back from the leading pace in fifth. Behind him was Hyundai's Andreas Mikkelsen, while Takamoto Katsuta and Grégoire Munster finished seventh and eighth respectively.

Just three-tenths of a second split Citroën’s WRC2 teammates Nikolay Gryazin and Yohan Rossel, who rounded out the top 10 in their identical C3 Rally2 cars.

The ceremonial start takes place outside the National and University Library in Zagreb later today before the first day of on-stage action on Friday. 


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