Croatia Delta Rally
Round 3, Croatia
European Rally Championship
The “Croatia delta Rally” is the oldest, most difficult and most popular car racing event in the Republic of Croatia. The event also has the reputation as being one of the best organized events in this part of Europe. The event was organized for the time in 1974 by the “INA” auto-moto club of Zagreb and was then called the “INA-delta TLX Rally”. The Rally 'struggled' to obtain European Championship status for more than 15 years. Finally in 1991 FIA granted the coefficient 2 to the Rally and in 1992 the 19th European Delta rally championship took place.
The Organizer of the event are proud say that this was the first international sporting event to have been organized in the newly formed Republic of Croatia.Top level organization with the help of numerous sports enthusiasts, and the chief sponsor “INA oil industries “and with the support of certain individuals in the Croatian government made it possible for the Rally to gain coefficient 5 in 1994 and coefficient 10 the following year. Thus in the short span of four years the Rally grew from an anonymous local event to one of the most prestigious in this part of Europe.
The “Croatia delta Rally” being one of the most important sporting events in Croatia has a very rich sporting history. The first event held in November of 1974 was a regional Croatian Championship. The start of the Rally was in Delnice and the 283 km long route led the drivers through the Gorski Kotar and Lika regions to the finish in Rijeka., with one slalom stage and two special stages: Platak (8.2km of tarmac) and Učka (8km of gravel). The first ever winner of the Rally was Tomislav Markt a member of the INA team.
Three years passed before the 'Delta' became a part of the Yugoslav National Championship. The start was in Presluka near Opatija, and the 690 km long route with five special stages took the competitors through Ogulin, Delnice, Duga Resa, Sisak to the finish in Zagreb. A total of 44 crews started the event and Aleš Pušnik from Slovenia was the winner the event.
A further nine long years had to pass before the 'Delta' made its next step; this time on the international scene. The 13th Delta was an international invitation event and a total of 75 crews from Italy, Austria, Germany, the Czech Republic, Slovakia, Slovenia and Croatia started the event. This was also the first time the Rally became a European Championship nominee. The route of the Rally was 607,55 km long and was split into two legs and consisted of 18 road sections and 17 special stages in six different locations. This Rally will also be remembered as the only one to have been won by a female crew; the Slovenian crew of Romana Zrnec as driver and Špela Kožar as co-driver in their Renault 11 turbo.
After that, the whole event was moved for good to Zagreb and the surrounding areas. Since then the special stages have taken place in the mountainous areas around Zagreb, Žumberak, Plešivica and the Croatian Zagorje region.For the Organizer of the event, the most difficult time was during the war in Croatia. Nevertheless the organization was immaculate as ever and it was during this period that the Rally, now organized by the “Auto club Delta”, stormed it's way through the ranks to become a coefficient 10 European Championship event. In 1992, the first European 'Delta' had the coefficient 2 (won by Ž. Šepatavc N. Krlić from Croatia). In 1993 the Rally had the coefficient 2 again, but the following year coefficient 5 was awarded to the Rally (won by N. Pulić D.Devunić from Croatia). Already in 1995 the 'Delta' had the prestigious coefficient 10 (won again by N. Pulić D.Devunić from Croatia). Thanks to acquaintances and the ever growing reputation of the Rally and it's Organizer a growing number of international drivers of the highest quality have appeared on the 'Delta' (Enrico Bertone two times European Champ amongst others). The event has maintained its high rank of organizing throughout the years and FIA observer's reports only confirm this fact. It is only natural that the Organizer auto club “Delta” Zagreb would not stop at this. Since 1996 to 2006 the “Croatia delta Rally” has been a serious candidate for the highest coefficient rang 20, now known as the European Championship.
Finaly, in 2007 we achieved our goal and become a European Championship race of the highest rank.
Can the 'Delta crew' organize a World Rally Championship race?! After looking at the facts the answer is affirmative. We have the backing of the highest state officials, sponsors and the media; and the event itself is organized by a team of professionals and volunteers whose origins can be traced to the Auto-moto association “Nafta” Gojlo founded in 1949. The timekeeping and race results processing are in the safe and competent hands of “Delta Timing” who have proven themselves time and time again working on rallies in Austria and Slovenia using the most modern and up to date time keeping and computer technology.Now, when we are part of European Rally Championship, you ask us what the next step is? Well the World Rally Championship of course!