Drivers: Toshi Arai (Subaru) and Fumio Nutahara (Mitsubishi).

Press conference.

Q:
Nutahara san, you have a new co-driver for this event as your regular co-driver Daniel Barritt is ill and will be replaced by Hakaru Ichino who is the reigning African Championship co-driver. How tough will it be without Daniel this weekend?

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Fumio Nutahara:
Daniel contacted me at the end of last week to say he could not come. He wasn't feeling well at that time and I was worried because it looked like he had food poisoning with salmonella. The doctor stopped him from leaving the hospital. In a hurry I asked Mr Ichino to be my co-driver substitute on Sunday morning and I contacted the organiser about the change of a co-driver. I had total trust of Daniel and I am so disappointed but Mr Ichino was my co-driver twice: one domestic rally and just last month in the China Rally Championship he was my co-driver so in that sense we do not have to worry about the new combination.

Q:
The rally has now moved to Sapporo; what do you think of the stages here?

FN:
I feel they are very difficult stages especially the road surface being so rough. Sometimes the corners, sometimes the surface is very challenging.

Q:
It's the first time we see the Evo X in the PWRC, how did the test go on Monday?

FN:
Well the PWRC combined test was conducted on Monday and it was the first time for me to drive this particular car. I was satisfied with the result and the setting we found was very suitable. In the domestic rally here the Evo X was used and the result and data has been used in the test so we did good preparation for Rally Japan.

Q:
What are the main differences between the Evo X and the previous model?

FN:
The engine is totally different. The mid-speed torque has increased and will be more suitable for this type of car. The suspension is much better than the previous model. The traction is also very good.

Q:
What have you thought about your performance this year?

FN:
This year, the last time in New Zealand we had a bit of trouble but until then we were steadily gaining the points. We're aiming at higher standings in the last part of the season and especially Rally Japan. I am here at my home so I will be looking for victory.

Q:
What are your plans for next year? Could the Evo X be a winning car for next year?

FN:
It's that time of year when I think about next year but the world economy is a problem and it is the same in my homeland as well. I want to achieve a very good record with the Evo X, that's for sure.

Q:
Toshi, you have only scored points on one event this year. Do you think you might have more luck on your home event?

Toshi Arai:
Of course I tried too hard. The last time I get the three points was in the Swedish Rally. After then I have retirement every rally so I am disappointed but the car has been improved and I hope to have a good result here.

Q:
This is now the last round for you in PWRC this season; what improvements have been seen on the new car throughout the season?

TA:
Especially in the rear suspension. It's been quite good on smooth gravel but on rough places we need more testing. The competition is getting better but it's easier to drive than the previous car.

Q:
We have seen some snowfall on the stages, with the forecast possibly for more - which means it will be very tricky on the stages this weekend?

TA:
Day one it's quite tricky and narrow like a proper Japanese road. It's completely different on days two and three, it's high speed, flowing and a good challenging road. Also the weather is terrible with quite a lot of snow so not so easy. I don't want to drive on the snow on gravel tyres - that's very difficult.

Q:
How did the test go on Monday?

TA:
We had big rain so I did not do so much testing but my feeling was very comfortable so not so bad.

Q:
What about next season, will we see you back in the PWRC?

TA:
I hope so but I try to do many testing in the off season so next year I will be faster and become the champion again.

Q:
What is your aim for this rally?

TA:
I have to finish the rally, that's the objective, but I want to win this rally. It's a nice event and a nice way to end the season. It's Subaru's home event but it's not so easy with the other drivers and the drivers in the E10. It's definitely extra pressure being at home.