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Gravel Notes Podcast: WRC Croatia preview

The World Rally Championship swaps gravel for asphalt with a visit to Croatia’s technical stages for round four of 2024 this weekend.

Ott Tänak, Martin Järveoja, M-Sport Ford World Rally Team Ford Puma Rally1

Photo by: Red Bull Content Pool

The championship is finely poised with Hyundai’s Thierry Neuville leading Toyota’s Elfyn Evans by six points following a grueling Safari Rally Kenya that saw both title contenders hit trouble.

Reigning world champion Kalle Rovanpera produced a faultless drive to win in Africa to claim his first win of a part-time campaign and secure Toyota’s maiden victory of the 2024 season.

Toyota will be aiming to continue its return to form at an event where it has won the previous three editions. The Japanese brand will be without Rovanpera as eight-time world champion and 2021 Croatia winner Sebastien Ogier takes over the third factory GR Yaris.

Sitting fourth in the championship, Hyundai’s Ott Tanak heads to Croatia needing to ignite his title challenge following a difficult start to the season, with the 2019 world champion yet to score a podium result after three rounds.

Andreas Mikkelsen rejoins the Hyundai team to make his second WRC start of the season in the third i20N. The team will pay tribute to the late Craig Breen with a special livery adorning its cars as the round marks a year since the loss of the much-loved former Hyundai driver.

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M-Sport-Ford will debut a new rear wing on its pair of Ford Pumas for Adrien Fourmaux and Gregoire Munster.

This week Autosport WRC reporter Tom Howard is joined by rally journalist Luke Barry to discuss all the key topics heading into Croatia, including the news that Ireland won’t be joining the WRC calendar next year. The pair also delve into the history of the event with the second edition of the Gravel Notes quiz.

The 20-stage rally, comprising 283 competitive kilometres, begins on Friday.

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