5 September 2004 Leg 3 Release

Argyle third in Japan’s Asia-Pacific event

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Fumio Nutahara / Satoshi Hayashi
(Leg 3 - 5 September 2004)

Mitsubishi Motors drivers featured strongly in Rally Japan, the country’s first-ever round of the FIA World Rally Championship. Lancer Evolution drivers such as Fumio Nutahara and Katsuhiko Taguchi proved highly-competitive in the Group N class, although Masayuki Ishida was ultimately the top Lancer Evolution driver, finishing a creditable fourth in the category.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Masayuki Ishida / Shigeru Sawada
(Leg 3 - 5 September 2004)
The inaugural world championship running of Rally Japan got underway on Thursday night with a ceremonial start in the city of Obihiro, 900 kilometers north of Tokyo on the country’s northernmost island of Hokkaido. The location of this archipelago of islands on the rim of the Pacific Ocean means that weather conditions are mixed and often extreme but, after the buffeting a recent typhoon gave the country, the weather during rally weekend remained dry in what is normally a wet period. The opening leg of competition was the longest of the three-day event and while many of the stages have been compared to those in Britain’s Welsh forests, no two roads are ever the same and the challenge proved enormous for the crews, teams and tire manufacturers, nearly all of whom were contesting the event for the first time.

Masayuki Ishida and Osamu Fukunaga, both driving Lancer Evolutions in the full World Championship event, were the top Mitsubishi drivers at the finish of the tough, three-day rally. The Japanese crews, who finished 13th and 17th overall respectively, were delighted to reach the finish after almost 400 kilometers of tricky, often rough stages and especially pleased to get a chance to compete against the best drivers in the world.

The event was also a qualifying round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship and Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution driver Geof Argyle claimed third position at the end of their two-day event. The New Zealander climbed from an overnight fifth to finish 42.9 seconds ahead of fellow Lancer Evolution driver Armin Kremer. New Zealand’s Brian Green claimed seventh of the contenders and on a good day for the Kiwi’s, Dermott Malley finished eighth giving Mitsubishi four of the top eight slots.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Osamu Fukunaga / Hisatsugu Okumura
(Leg 3 - 5 September 2004)
"I’m very happy", said Geoff Argyle, "we have finished third in APRC which is quite a reasonable result considering I made some bad tires choices on the first part of the rally. On the last part of the event we finally got the combination right and we know now we’ve got the package - we just got make sure we come to these events earlier and do more testing in each country. It was different from last year - this year the WRC cars made the roads that much more difficult to pick’".

Former Asia-Pacific Rally Champion Katsuhiko Taguchi was very much in contention to claim Asia-Pacific honors in his Lancer Evolution. The Japanese set two fastest stage times in the opening leg to overnight in second position but then suffered bitter disappointment today when he encountered an engine problem in the penultimate stage and was forced to retire.

Petter Solberg will go down in the history as the first winner of the inaugural World Championship rally in Japan. The Norwegian claimed victory by one minute 13.3 seconds over series leader Sébastien Loeb. Markko Märtin took the final podium position at the end of the 27 special stage event. Loeb now holds a commanding 30 point advantage in the Drivers’ Championship and Citroën continue to lead the Manufacturers’ Championship with 35 points in hand to second-placed Ford.

The 12th round of the FIA World Rally Championship takes the contenders back to Europe for Britain’s round of the series, Wales Rally GB (September 17-19). With its change of date - from winter to early autumn - this is yet another rally that will pose different challenges for the crews. The FIA Production Car World Rally Championship resumes next month, when the contenders head to the island of Corsica for the sixth round of their series, the Rallye de France - Tour de Corse (October 14-17).


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Petter Solberg M / Phil Mills N/GB  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8   
 Sébastien Loeb M / Daniel Elena F/MC  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8  + 1.13.3 
 Markko Märtin M / Michael Park EE/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 04 A/8  + 1.43.3 
 Marcus Grönholm M / Timo Rautiainen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8  + 2.17.9 
 Carlos Sainz M / Marc Marti E  Citroën Xsara WRC A/8  + 2.31.0 
 Harri Rovanperä M / Risto Pietiläinen FIN  Peugeot 307 WRC A/8  + 7.26.2 
 Mikko Hirvonen M / Jarmo Lehtinen FIN  Subaru Impreza WRC 04 A/8  + 9.06.5 
 Antony Warmbold / Gemma Price D/GB  Ford Focus RS WRC 02 A/8  + 18.14.7 
 Toshihiro Arai / Tony Sircombe J/NZ  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 18.15.4 
10   Takuma Kamada / Naoki Kase J  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 21.51.2 
11   Dean Herridge / Glenn MacNeall AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 22.45.4 
12   Chris Atkinson AP / Ben Atkinson AUS  Suzuki Ignis A/6  + 23.25.4 
13   Masayuki Ishida / Shigeru Sawada J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 24.14.4 
14   Cody Crocker / Greg Foletta AUS  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 24.38.5 
15   Hiroshi Yanagisawa / Tadashi Misaizu J  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 25.19.6 
16   Yuya Sumiyama / Hajime Hoshino J  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 29.06.0 
17   Osamu Fukunaga / Hisatsugu Okumura J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 31.43.4 
18   Vesa Mikkola AP / Risto Niukkanen FIN  Suzuki Ignis A/6  + 32.45.4 
19   Yozo Watanabe / Shigeru Ikeda J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 33.19.8 
20   Daisuke Yamada / Takayuki Numao J  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 33.23.5 
21   Gento Nagayoshi / Norimasa Yamagishi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 36.48.4 
22   Katsuyuki Osawa / Takashi Tairaku J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 36.54.7 
23   Masashi Kanai / Masahiko Kihara KOR/J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 37.46.7 
24   Shinsuke Arai / Akitoshi Uchida J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 39.41.1 
25   Atsushi Masumura / Yukinori Fukumura J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 40.20.3 
26   Hiromichi Niwa / Teruaki Yasue J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 41.13.2 
27   Shinya Yamauchi / Motonobu Takehira J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 43.26.2 
28   Sean Gray / Fumiaki Takahashi NZ/J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 44.25.6 
29   Ichiro Nakano / Rob Scott J/NZ  Subaru Impreza N/4  + 46.00.0 
30   Yuji Nakata / Yoriko Sakoda J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 47.19.6 
31   Masahiro Nakajima / Naoki Kurosaki J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 48.05.7 
33   Aritoshi Mitsukuri / Michiko Hasegawa J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 54.20.2 
35   Mitsuhiro Aoki / Fumika Aoki J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 56.28.7 
43   Nobumi Sakamoto / Akira Endo J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 
50   Hideaki Namba / Takashi Sekiguchi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 
53   Yuko Fukuzawa / Masako Takahashi J  Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution N/4  + 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia/ D=Germany/ E=Spain/ EE=Estonia/ F=France/ FIN=Finland/ GB=Great Britain/ J=Japan/ KOR=Republic of Korea/ MC=Monte Carlo/ N=Norway/ NZ=New Zealand/
Names underlined followed by M indicate drivers nominated in the FIA World Rally Championship for Manufacturers
Names underlined followed by AP indicate drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points