Sacred baptism of fire for the Rally Croatia. On the occasion of its debut in the world championship, this event contested on asphalt reserved a high-end show. From the first special, the young Kalle Rovenperä (Toyota), leader of the drivers’ classification, was forced to retire after going off the road in the trees. His three pursuers then engaged in a constant battle at the top of the hierarchy, each of them dominating a stage. After Thierry neuville (Hyundai) Friday, Sebastien Ogier (Toyota) took control the next day and Elfyn Evans (Toyota) had taken over the lead on Sunday morning before breaking down in the last special.
Six tenths, never seen on asphalt
To add to the dramaturgy of the Sunday stage, Sébastien Ogier was involved in a traffic accident on the crossover route, damaging the right door of his Yaris WRC. The cage arch was not affected, the Frenchman could continue, accompanied by his co-driver Julien Ingrassia. At the start of the last special, it seemed unlikely that he could win, with a deficit of 3.9 seconds to fill on Elfyn Evans and 14.09 km to go. However, at the cost of a great time in the Power Stage, the Gapençais put pressure on his team-mate, the last to start. In the ultimate intermediate sector, the Welshman still held his victory for a second, but a passage off the last corner would ultimately deprive him of him for just six tenths of a second ! Not to mention that Thierry Neuville completed the podium 8.1 seconds behind the winner.
Ogier, record holder since 2011
Thus, this suspenseful Rally of Croatia gave rise to the tightest gap between a winner and his runner-up on asphalt. All surfaces combined, this is the third tightest finish in history of the world championship. The record in this field dates from the 2011 Jordan Rally, at the end of which Sebastien Ogier (Citroën DS3) had preceded Jari-Matti Latvala (Ford Fiesta) for only two tenths of a second. However, it should be put into perspective because the event was limited to 260 km timed after the cancellation of the first stage, following the delay of the boat carrying the trucks and equipment of each team.
The incredible duel of Rally New Zealand 2007
In the eyes of specialists, the most memorable finish remains that of the legendary New Zealand Rally 2007. For three days and more than 350 km timed, Marcus Grönholm (Ford Focus) et Sebastien loeb (Citroën C4) had fought a battle of rare intensity, being held in less than three seconds throughout the last stage. This epic showdown was won by the Finn for only three tenths of a second.
Find below the Top 10 tightest finishes in the history of the World Rally Championship, according to data compiled by the website juwra.
- 0.2 sec between Ogier and Latvala at Rally Jordan 2011
- 0.3 sec between Grönholm and Loeb at Rally New Zealand 2007
- 0.6 sec between Ogier and Evans at Rally Croatia 2021
- 0.7 sec between Neuville and Evans at Rally Argentina 2017
- 0.7 sec between Neuville and Ogier at Rallye de Sardaigne 2018
- 2.1 sec between McRae and Sainz at Rally Portugal 1998
- 2.2 sec between Ogier and Neuville at Rallye Monte-Carlo 2019
- 2.4 sec between Kankkunen and Burns at Rally Argentina 1999
- 2.4 sec between Latvala and Ogier at Rally New Zealand 2010
- 2.4 sec between Loeb and Hirvonen at Rally Argentina 2011
Plus d’infos Rallye WRC :
WRC 2021 calendar: rally dates and times
Sébastien Ogier’s cars: his competition models
Sébastien Loeb: a surprise return to the WRC at the wheel of a Ford?