The organisers of the Rally Japan have had to cancel SS8, the repeat run through the 5.74 kilometre Pipaoi test.

The decision was taken by the clerk of the course as a result of the delays caused after Francois Duval's accident.

It is the third test to be canned, as the Isepo stage (SS3/7) was struck off the itinerary on Thursday due to heavy snowfall.

Consequently most competitors have only driven four stages competitively so far - 43.32 kilometres in total - and only six completed the repeat run through Yuparo at speed prior to be it being stopped so that medical personnel could get to Duval's Stobart Ford Focus.

For the record, Mikko Hirvonen was quickest in SS6 prior to it being halted - 6.6 seconds up on his team-mate, Jari-Matti Latvala, while Sebastien Loeb was third, 0.3 seconds further back. Chris Atkinson, Petter Solberg and Henning Solberg were fourth, fifth and sixth respectively.

The opening leg will now conclude with two runs through the short 1.49 kilometre Sapporo super special stage. SS8 is due to start around 18.14 hours, with SS9 starting at 18.24 hours [all times local].



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