It's a miracle that nobody was hurt.
A few fighting morons narrowly escaped being run over by a Toyota GR Yaris rally car at the Croatia Rally this past weekend. The 2023 Croatia Rally is one that the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC), competing teams, and fans will want to forget due to the untimely death of rally driver Craig Breen. Winner of the Croatia Rally, Elfyn Evans, paid tribute to Breen after securing victory, dedicating his win to his fallen compatriot. But despite the tenderness of everyone's hearts, there were those in attendance who saw fit to act like fools.
The WRC is unique in motorsport, as nothing stops the fans from getting as close as possible to the action. There are marshalls at certain hotspots, but for the most part, you can get close enough to touch a car. We guess fans learned nothing from the deadly Group B era, as this past weekend, a few fans got into a brawl on the road while a stage was in session.
Luckily, marshalls were posted at this small jump, ending the fight before getting body-slammed by a GR Yaris Rally1 Hybrid. We don't know what's worse. The fact that they were fighting on a live stage or that they put the life of one particular marshall in danger.
Looking at the footage above, you'll see that one brave marshall remained on the track for as long as possible. He escaped the flying car by about two seconds.
The footage was filmed by a smaller team known as the T4T World Rally Team. It fields a lightly modified sixth-generation Ford Fiesta, but not for championship points. It's a charity team. "We are the poorest and slowest World Rally Team ever. Our mission is [to] bring joy to rallying and doing charity work [by] helping young and talented Finnish motorsport enthusiasts," its mission statement on Instagram reads.
It's unclear what the two men were fighting about, and it doesn't really matter. This kind of hooliganism spoils the event for everyone and could have added two more deaths to the roster. We hope they get a lifetime ban and that Toyota makes sure they're never eligible to buy a GR Corolla for their actions.
You can be sure that action will be taken, as the WRC is under a microscope following the death of Craig Breen. There hasn't been a driver death in the WRC since 1989, when Augusto Mendes crashed during the Rallye de Portugal.
The Croatia Rally was not all gloom and doom, however. In an epic example of sportsmanship, Toyota Gazoo Racing nominated only two of its cars for points from Croatia since Hyundai would be unable to field three cars following Breen's passing. Toyota did not want to capitalize on an advantage caused by a death.
This decision was taken prior to the race, in which Toyota finished first, fourth, fifth, and sixth, but only the cars in fourth and fifth (driven by Kalle Rovanpera and Sebastien Ogier) were nominated, meaning Toyota does not pick up Constructors' points for the win.