Francoise Hollender: Croatia Trophy 2019 impression

Francoise Hollender sent us the story of her and Franck Daurelle experience at Croatia Trophy 2019. They were classified third in their class. What we like is to tell a race with the impressions of the participants. So here we are!

Photography Ricardo Gomes

croatia trophy francoise hollender franck daurelle euro4x4parts

Croatia Trophy 2019, a new chapter

This Croatia Trophy 2019, which was to be the revival of this rally after a white year in 2018 and a change of camp for more comfort, still left us a bit disappointed... Certainly the camp is now equipped with showers and offers a better catering, which makes a difference when you spend the whole day in the mud, but the most important lies elsewhere.


We have driven very nice tracks in the forest with some super-well-made road-books, but, overall, these road-books, if we remove the km of liaison, were short (not enough km per day) and the Orga had not planned enough B plan road-books to compensate for the days when forestry work, bad weather and other landslides prevented us from using the road-books initially planned. This led us to repeat 2 road-books twice in the week, which can be interesting as an exercise when climatic conditions change so much as they often do in this region, but, all the same, we did not come for that. We expected and asked for more!


The Orga team, with the exception of the race management, was completely changed in 2019, which caused some bad surprises too: for example, the day after the night stage, after having been outside all night long to wait for participants, the marshals simply decreed that they would not work the next day...


And we shouldn’t forgetthas this rally is a basic rally, without GPS, without tracking system, without helicopter, so without the costs inherent to this type of modern and technological rallies.


A novelty to report this year: the introduction of a Legend class with vehicles closer to series. In total:

- 14 teams entered Trophy Class, the main category of the event, including the stars of the discipline like Jim Marsden, Johann Eibensteiner, Szylard Magyar, Hardo Mere, 1 team Euro4x4parts from Portugal (Helder Da Rocha) and 2 teams from Australia came to participate!

- 13 teams entered Adventure Class, the intermediate class, as we did

- 7 teams entered Legend Class


For this Croatia Trophy 2019, we left with Loïc Mauro as our mechanic, a friend from the Breslau, for whom this race had a particular interest considering the characteristics of his car and the qualities of his team. This collaboration was a very positive experience!

Croatia Trophy 2019 race report

- Thursday 02/05/2019: show-start and prologue 

Good weather, beautiful atmosphere, everything goes well. The prologue only counts for the order of departure of the next day, that's all, but we already startto use winches ... We finish 5th of our class.  


- Friday 03/05/2019: stage 1 

Nice stage in the woods, with a good road-book of 44 km + liaison. We do not experience any particular problem during this stage that takes place in dry weather. Except that the beltbreaks a few miles before the finish, which forces us to stop to change it, except that ... we did not take a spare belt with us ... so we put back half of the belt that remains to finish the race. And we finish in first position! This allows us to pocket a bonus of 12 '(the second pocket 6' and the third 3', and this in all the "classic" stages of this race)


- Saturday 04/05/2019: stage 2 / Trophy Day 

This stage is made to encourage the teams that are close in the ranking to collaborate. We start, under pouring rain, with an individual event consisting of a fifteen-minute road-book, then start 3 by 3 in an event where we have to overcome the difficulties together and come back together. Except that in this group race, we leave with the Estonian team and KévinPringot, and the latter unfortunately breaks his front axle in the circuit, in a position where none of the other members of the group can stow him back to the finish line. After trying to find a marshal to askfor direction, we end up deciding to go to the finishline without him, then argue a moment to record our time in a reasonable delay so as not to accumulate too many penalties. We finishin second place that day despite all these vicissitudes. 


- Sunday 05/05/2019: Circuit Race / stage 3 or night stage 

The Circuit Race consists of a circuit of 3 km that we have to race 3 times (5km 5 times for the Trophy Class), stopping at the checkpoint after each lap. It's super slippery and sometimes dangerous, because of the rain that hasn’t stopped pouring since yesterday. In the evening, Night Stage, with a huge misunderstanding as to the starting point of the stage, which disgusted more than one team and delayed the start by almost 2 hours. No network on the spot, so the chief marshal decides to send a team to try the following positions of the road-book, team which returns after half an hour having been able to test the different possibilities, which will give him a definite advantage thereafter. Because the majority of the other teams will choose the wrong way, only 20m away from the rightone, and that will engage them in a super dangerous and steep climb where you had to winchevery meter to get your car moving forward. After realising this can’t be the right way, and having lost half an hour to go back down to the main track again, still using the winch, we take the other option, 20m further and everything goes normally, until 200m from the finish line (we heard them talking!),where a steering hydraulic hose breaks. We start to change this hose - that we had with us - because there was absolutely no possibility to be towed or to push the vehicle for the remaining 200m, the wheels did not move at all! We repair and reach for the finish, but we arrive in 7th position only. 


- Monday 06/05/2019: stage 5 

Unable to drive the road-book initially planned for this day following a landslide in the area concerned, we drive again, underpouring rain this time, stage 1, which will be called stage 5. It is not the same situationas the first time, and it's interesting, but essentially from a driving point of view, nottoo much from the navigation side. We finish in 2nd position that day. And are 3rd in the general, overall classification being just published for the first time. That day after the race, we change the rear brake pads and the air filter.


- Tuesday 07/05/2029: stage 6


We get the road-book of stage 7, for an unexplained reason. It is a very beautiful stage of 41 km plus liaison, it’s varied and interesting both from the point of view of driving and navigation. We finish 3rd of this stage and 2nd overall.


- Wednesday 08/05/2019: stage 7 

Without any explanation from the race management, the road-book distributed today is exactly the same as the previous day!!

Yes, it was a very beautiful stage, but still. We are largely ahead of the rest of the teams during this stage, but ... we will experience a major problem 300m from the finish line in an extremely pronounced descent with a ravine on each side: another steering hydraulic hose breaks! This time, the situation is not the same : of course, we can repair like the first time, but, when we start again, perhaps for not having put enough steering liquid in the reservoir, Franck doesnot manage to put the wheels in the desired position and we rolloverseverely in the ravine, with only the ventral belts put, in our haste not to spoil our chances and to arrive quickly at the finish. Franck is doing well, holding himself to the steering wheel in front of him, I'm not doing as well, still holding some tools and the empty bottle of steering liquid ... It is only with the help of friends arrived at the finish in between, that we manage to put our car back on its wheels in this very steep slope, and reach the finish.

As soon we arrive, painkiller injections for me, and forced rest . Despite all this, we are 7th on the stage and are still 3rd overall ...



- Thursday 09/05/2019: stage 8 

Last stage of the race, with a road-book of less than twenty km plus liaison. It's a nice stage, not made to upset the established ranking.

Until the last moment before the start, I hesitate to take my seat in the car, then I finally decide to make it till the end, helped in that by three painkiller injections; that's it, we managed it, and we arrive to the finish without too much trouble, but not at our usual pace ...

Result of the day 6th, and we remain 3rd overall, still on the podium! Despite our disappointment, we are proud of this result!


Then follows the award ceremony, with lots of beer to celebrate ... and a great atmosphere. Back towards home the next day, more or less all right, but with this bitter feeling that this race was not at the level of what it used to be and what we expected it to be.

Let's hope that the Orgateam will get it all back together by next year, otherwise this race will decline very quickly ... and it would be such a shame for such a great race!