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PWRC: Hanninen overhauls Aigner.

Juho Hanninen will go to the Rally GB next month favourite to take the FIA Production Car World Rally Championship title and he will only need to finish fifth to clinch his first world crown.

Hanninen took the maximum ten points in Japan last weekend, the seventh and penultimate round in the P-WRC. Although he struggled on day one and finished it ninth in class, 46.1 seconds off the leader, he charged back on day two and hauled himself up to second, fractionally in front of Toshi Arai.

On the final day he went into the last stage trailing Evgeny Novikov by over 25 seconds, but when the Russian had suspension problems, Juho suddenly found himself bumped up to first.

It was his third P-WRC win of the year and Mitsubishi's 15th in succession in the Group N class. He will now take a six point lead over Andreas Aigner into December's event in Wales.

"This rally started badly for me, but then got better and better," Hanninen reflected. "Today was tough, though. The rain in SS23 - Sikot - was just incredible. The water was so deep in the roads that the car was aquaplaning a lot. It wasn't nice to drive in these conditions. You just had to come through.

"Luckily, we were in a good position and we didn't need to take the risk. We pushed harder in the final stage, when it looked like we could be in a position for taking the win.

"Now it's all down to the final round. The rain has given us some good preparation for the last rally in Wales. That's an event I really like, now I just need to get the right result. The car has been perfect here, no problem at all."

So how is he going to approach Rally GB?

"I don't know yet. I haven't thought so much about it," he conceded. "Of course Andreas Aigner is quick but I have been two times to Wales Rally GB and I like it very much. I will need to push to the maximum."


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