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Starts: Thursday, June 27, 2024 at 8:00:00 AM
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Ferratum World RX of Sweden 1
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Starts: Saturday, July 6, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM

Mon 29 Apr 2024

Croatia Rally bears fruit for TGR youngsters

Toyota GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program drivers Hikaru Kogure and Yuki Yamamoto both admitted Croatia Rally was one of the toughest events in their careers – but both took plenty of positives home from Zagreb.

The Japanese drivers were tackling their second WRC event at the wheel of a Toyota GR Yaris Rally2 and both found the changeable conditions and complicated grip levels difficult to read. Kogure was forced out of Friday afternoon’s action when he spun and damaged the radirator on his car. He returned for the weekend. Yamamoto went off the road two kilometres before the end of the final Saturday stage, he was back on Sunday.

Challenge instructor Juho Hänninen saw plenty of positives from the season’s second outing. He said: “We knew before coming to Croatia that this was going to be a really big challenge for the drivers. They had a really good pre-event test, but the weather was almost too good, and so they only faced the really muddy and slippery conditions for the first time in the rally.

“Both had small mistakes, but we knew this was likely with such little experience. We’re really happy that they drove basically all the stages – there were not so many corners that they didn’t drive – and when the conditions were easier, their performance was pretty encouraging: just over a second per kilometre from the top times. The most important thing is that now they are way more experienced coming here so it’s easier next time, and they realise how much they still have to learn about these WRC events.”

Kogure said: “This was one of the toughest weekends for me so far. Unfortunately in the last stage [on Friday], in a corner with a lot of gravel, I went a bit too fast, spun and hit the inside bank and broke the radiator. My confidence and pace got better day-by-day, which was really good. There was lots of learning and it was all good experience for the future.”

Yamamoto added: “I really learned a lot during this rally. I knew that Croatia is a really demanding rally, but the first stage was maybe the trickiest one with a lot of mud. I’m happy with how I approached this event. The pace was getting better and better through the first two days. Unfortunately, at the end of Saturday I was just too fast over a crest and went off, which was a pity. But I could finish almost all the stages and gain really nice experience, so it has been a pretty good weekend.”

The pair will be back out for their third WRC outing of the season at next week's Vodafone Rally de Portugal (9 - 12 May).