Elfyn Evans and Scott Martin have returned to the top step of the podium with TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team, taking victory at the Croatia Rally.
Together with their fellow podium finishers, Evans and Martin dedicated the result to their friend and fellow competitor Craig Breen, who tragically lost his life in the build-up to the event. Martin was previously co-driver to Breen between 2014 and 2018, claiming their first WRC podiums together.
A well-managed drive enabled Evans and Martin to claim their fifth win with TGR-WRT and their first since Rally Finland in 2021. The asphalt stages around Zagreb proved to be challenging once again, with frequent surface changes and a lot of mud and gravel being dragged onto the road, but Evans was able to find the right balance between caution and speed.
After gaining the lead on Saturday morning, he could increase his advantage in tricky conditions in the evening to 25.4 seconds, and extended that margin over half a minute in the first of Sunday’s four tests. This allowed a more cautious approach to the final stages, with a winning margin of 27s.
Team-mates Kalle Rovanperä and Sébastien Ogier completed the top five, recovering after hitting trouble in the same place on Friday’s second stage when heavy impacts in a compression in the road forced them to stop and change a wheel.
Both showed strong pace thereafter while competing closely with each other for position. Rovanperä and co-driver Jonne Halttunen won six stages in total to finish fourth, with Ogier and navigator Vincent Landais setting seven fastest times across the weekend as they took fifth.
Rovanperä and Ogier took second and third respectively in the rally-ending Power Stage. Ogier and Evans are now joint leaders of the drivers’ championship, one point ahead of Rovanperä.
As a mark of solidarity ahead of this event, only two drivers per team were nominated as eligible to score manufacturers’ championship points. With the results of Rovanperä and Ogier taken into account, TGR-WRT has a lead of 29 points.
Takamoto Katsuta rounded out the top six finishers in his GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID supported by the TGR WRC Challenge Program.
Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal)
“It has been a hard week for the rally community and the most important thing here was to have a safe rally and a good competition as Craig would have wanted. Personally, I feel that Elfyn and Scott were a great pairing to win this event in these circumstances. They were friends with Craig, and Scott was previously a co-driver of Craig and they reached their first podium together. It was not easy for them to come to this event but they did a fantastic job and they deserve the victory: I think that it means a lot to them to win again. It was also nice to have Kalle and Seb bringing some good points for the team after their problems on Friday.”
PROVISIONAL FINAL CLASSIFICATION, CROATIA RALLY
1 Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) 2h50m54.3s
2 Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +27.0s
3 Esapekka Lappi/Janne Ferm (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID) +58.6s
4 Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m18.3s
5 Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +1m28.0s
6 Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID) +2m22.5s
7 Pierre-Louis Loubet/Nicolas Gilsoul (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID) +4m22.6s
8 Yohan Rossel/Arnaud Dunand (Citroën C3 Rally2) +7m51.3s
9 Nikolay Gryazin/Konstantin Aleksandrov (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +8m07.4s
10 Oliver Solberg/Elliott Edmondson (Škoda Fabia RS Rally2) +9m16.7s
(Results as of 14:30 on Sunday, for the latest results please visit www.wrc.com)
Rally de Portugal (May 11-14) begins a run of consecutive events on gravel. Based in Matosinhos near Porto in the north of the country, it features classic stages on sandy and rocky roads.