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Rally Japan - preview - Pt. 1.

The World Rally Championship takes a step into the unknown this week when it journeys to the 'Land of the Rising Sun' for a new-look Rally Japan.

This penultimate round is firmly established in the series. However, a new host city means that for the second time the roads will be very much an unknown.

After four years in Obihiro, the rally moves west to Sapporo in the central region of Hokkaido, the country's most northerly island.

It is based at the 43,000-capacity Sapporo Dome, a modern baseball and soccer stadium that hosted the 2002 World Cup. The dome also hosts five asphalt speed tests, the first time in WRC history that two cars run simultaneously on a super special stage in a covered arena.

All the special stages are new to the WRC but most of the countryside tests have been used for many years in Japan's national championship. Most are based on medium to high-speed gravel forest roads and organisers describe them as flowing with good visibility.


Special notes:

Rally Japan has traditionally been a punishing event; a rally of attrition. Since the inaugural event in 2004, the event has been won by four different manufacturers and four different drivers.

This year marks the first time the rally has been run outside of Obihiro, and whilst the stages are totally new to all but Japanese National Championship competitors, the stern challenge remains.

The roads tend to be narrow in Japan and are often characterised by fast straights leading into tight corners. With trees and ditches close to the side of the road, there is little room for error.

The braking areas are particularly complex, as the drivers tend to arrive at high speed with little idea about the levels of grip and traction that they might encounter. The surfaces consist of soft gravel that can become muddy, a little bit like Argentina or Britain.



Related Pictures

Click on relevant pic to enlarge
Sebastien Loeb (FRA) / Daniel Elena (MC), Citroen Total WRT C4 WRC. Rally Japan. 26-28th October 2007.
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), BP Ford Focus RS WRC 06. Rally Japan. 26-28th October 2007.
Mikko Hirvonen (FIN) / Jarmo Lehtinen (FIN), BP Ford Focus RS WRC 06. Rally Japan. 26-28th October 2007.
Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC, Monza, [Credit: Hyundai Motorsport]
Podium 1st Australian - Molly Taylor (AUS) Bill Hayes (AUS) Subaru Impreza WRX Sti
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Lorenzo Bertelli (ITA) Simone Scattolin (ITA) Ford RS WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium, 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium - Volkswagen
Podium 1st Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 2nd Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Julien Ingrassia (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC, 3rd Thierry Neuville (BEL) Nicolas Gilsoul (BEL) Hyundai i20 WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Podium - Andreas Mikkelsen (NOR) Anders Jaeger Synnevag (NOR) Volkswagen Polo R WRC
Mads Ostberg (NOR) Ola Floene (NOR) Ford Fiesta RS WRC
Sebastien Ogier (FRA) Volkswagen Polo R WRC

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