All of you who follow my and #rally posts know that there will be two new posts per every day (except on Sundays) but I had to skip on Friday and Saturday because I was very busy - being a competitor on the World Rally Championship event.
Yeah, we started WRC Croatia Rally 2023 on Thursday evening and I must admit that I was crying driving to my place from the ceremonial start. I rarely cry but this was just something special. My dream was now my reality. OK, i have more dreams but probably the biggest one is now fulfilled. Our car video was also in the news on Croatian national TV in the prime time at around 8:15pm when probably up to 1m people watch this. So that was for sure a great promo for our HIVE.
That Thursday morning was time for shakedown where we tried our Renault Clio Rally5. I tried to be catious and not to destroy anything or crash it. As I said, I wanted to start my first WRC event.
And then came the Friday morning when we started our first special stage. I just can't explain how destroyed that roads were. Rally1 car monsters with 550bhp and big 18 inch wheels destroy everything in front of them and some cuts in corners were deeper then half a meter.
Some two miles before the stage finish, we cut on the curb because I already saw on the recce that this will be the place where everyone will cut the corner so I marked that in my notes.So we cut there and steering rod from the front left wheel just collapsed, car slided to the right and parked gently in the deep ditch. I saw no traces on the body panels but the wheels on the front were looking in the opposite direction.
Trailer took the car back to the service park and team had three hours to repair it and we could continue via SuperRally rules.
What does that mean?
SuperRally rule allows you to continue the rally with time penalties and thaf means 10 minutes penalty on the best time from your class. That means we got 80 minutes of penalties for eight special stages we didn't finish on Friday. That was devastating for me but I wanted to continue because I had only one goal before this rally - to finish it any way I can.
Our team repaired the car in only 45 minutes with FIA observer watching all the time what were our mechanics doing. I knew at that moment that you have to have a good team behind you if you want to finish such a big event.
My co-driver Damir P. told me on Saturday morning that we don't have anything to fight for because of the time penalties and to slow a little bit. But I can tell you one thing - you just can't slow down when half a million people watch on you. You must go the best you can with the machinery you have. Our car is only 180bhp but we tried maximum.
Do I have to say that these special stages were the first one for me with that car? Yeah we had some testing but that's nowhere when you compare it with competition.
We were doing stage by stage and I tried to be clever on some places trying not to destroy the car. That approach with puahing where we could and being gentle gave us a Saturday stages finish. It was a long day with going to bed after midnight and having to wake up at 5:15 on Sunday. That means only three or four hours of sleep.
OK, we woke up and came to service park at 6:15.Out time for going out of parc ferme was 6:55. After parc ferme you go directly to the team box for the final check-ups and tire choice. We chose four softs and that probably wasn't the smartest idea because two of the stages were very fast and the other two were deep in the forest and softs were the right choice for the mud inside of forest.
I was pushing like never in my life. We had several jumps and I tried to be as fast as I can. The last special stage called the Power Stage was in the hills around small town called Kumrovec and it was around 60k people watching there with millions on the TV screen.
After we finished the rally my emotions were kinda mixed. I was unhappy because of the Friday, happy to survive on Saturday and happy with my drive on Sunday.
People send me photos all the time where you can see some other stickers then Hive's. That's the organizer's stickers which are always on the doors of both sides - driver's and co-driver's. One is on the top of the bonnet, one on the rear window and car/crew numbers all around the car.
It was weekend (it is better to say week) I will never forget and I hope for more of the same.
THANKS, HIVE, SO MUCH!!! ❤️❤️❤️
Great attitude from crew at @minnowsupport :)
Grab a beer and enjoy!