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Croatia set for 2024 WRC return as it eyes new multi-year deal

Croatia is set to feature on the 2024 World Rally Championship calendar as organisers work towards a new multi-year agreement.

Thierry Neuville, Martijn Wydaeghe, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The asphalt round joined the WRC in 2021 and has quickly built a reputation as one of the most challenging tarmac rallies on the schedule.

Last weekend’s rally won by Toyota’s Elfyn Evans, held in front of a healthy four-day crowd, was the event’s last of its current contract.

PLUS: How Evans ended his WRC drought in Croatia

However, WRC event director Simon Larkin has indicated that the rally will receive a slot on the 2024 calendar as part of a possible multi-year deal.

When asked about the event’s future, Larkin told Autosport: “It is very strong. We are working towards a multi-year renewal.

“I think even on Thursday the crowd numbers here was great. I think this event has grown on Croatia and Peter and I were lucky enough to go out to the stages and as we flew in there were lots of people.

“Absolutely it will be on the calendar next year 100%.”

While the event attracted a sizeable crowd last weekend, and largely went ahead without issue, footage emerged on social media post-event of a fight that had broken out between watching spectators, that spilled out onto a live stage.

Rally marshals managed to eventually defuse the situation and move the fans to safety a matter of seconds before Sebastien Ogier passed through the stage. 

Autosport understands the fans in question have since been fined and face a ban from next year’s event by Croatian authorities.

This incident won’t affect the event’s future on the 2024 WRC schedule.

“Following the video footage of inappropriate behaviour by spectators at one of the WRC Croatia Rally stages, we pass on the official statement from the organisers,” read statement from the WRC regarding the incident.

Podium: Winner Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, second place Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1, third place Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1 and all other drivers

Podium: Winner Elfyn Evans, Scott Martin, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota GR Yaris Rally1, second place Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1, third place Esapekka Lappi, Janne Ferm, Hyundai World Rally Team Hyundai i20 N Rally1 and all other drivers

Photo by: Toyota Racing

“We strongly condemn the behaviour of the irresponsible individuals shown in the video. These scenes do not represent the true fan community that passionately follows motorsport and rallying in any way.

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“With their irresponsible behaviour, the people involved not only put themselves in danger, but also the official personnel, volunteers and competing crews.

“As seen in the footage, Croatia Rally staff did everything they could, braving potential harm to themselves, to defuse the situation and ensure the safety of others. The systems and procedures worked to avoid actual harm.”

Croatia’s likely inclusion on the 2024 calendar arrives when a number of countries are vying for a spot on the schedule.

These include the UK, which has been given until May to source the required funding, and the USA, courtesy of a brand new event being constructed in Chattanooga, Tennessee.

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