Rally Hokkaido / FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship - Round 4 of 8
22 - 24 July 2005

Katsuhiko Taguchi claims victory
Jussi Välimäki 2nd overall in Rally Hokkaido

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey

The Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution scored an emphatic victory in the Rally Hokkaido, round four of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. 1999 APRC Champion Katsuhiko Taguchi claimed outright victory and maximum points in the series when he finished first overall, while MRF Tyre team-mate Jussi Välimäki finished hot on his heels in second position. Välimäki’s points ensure he continues to lead the Championship in the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution. In the overall classification for the event, Lancer Evolution drivers claimed nine of the top 12 positions.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey
Rally Hokkaido was originally run back in 2001 as a candidate event for the FIA World Rally Championship and, when successful in 2004, it ran as a round of both the FIA WRC and FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship. Now running as a stand-alone event for the FIA APRC, the rally took in 16 stages and 245.16 competitive kilometers in a total distance of 1,021.38 kilometers. Based around the central service park in Kibou Gaoka Rally Park, eight kilometers north of Central Obihiro City in the sub-prefecture of Tokachi, the route proved tricky for the contenders as all but one of the eight different stages was either totally new or run in a different configuration.

Despite running for the first time in mid-summer, crews had to contend with unpredictable weather conditions and Mitsubishi’s Taguchi started today’s final leg in second position, behind fellow countryman Toshihiro Arai. Taguchi stamped his mark on the day by posting top times, and then also benefited when Arai went off the road in SS11 and was forced into retirement.

"It seems that I have finally won!" said Katsuhiko, equal second in the championship standings. "All I want to say to my fans in Japan, who have been supporting me for a long time, thanks for you patience!" added the Japanese of his first international victory on home soil.

Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution Gr. N
Jussi Välimäki / Panu Plosila
"But the value of all championships is the same", he continued. "I went after this event as I would any other; I want to keep this momentum up until the WRC Rally Japan at the end of September and maintain the top Group N position. I feel that luck has come my way again. I will challenge the coming Rally Japan with a hop, step and jump; but I just have to be careful not to jump too high and end up in the river!"

Team-mate Jussi Välimäki, who has claimed two APRC victories so far this season, finished hot on his heels in second position after suffering with punctures in the opening leg. "First of all I would like to congratulate Taguchi on his impressive and well-deserved win", said Jussi. "Also, I am greatly satisfied that the team was able to achieve a 1-2 finish. Yanagisawa began to gain on me today so I picked up the pace a bit. Overall I think I did a little better than I did yesterday. I am really happy that I was able to maintain my championship position".

The fifth round of the FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship takes the contenders to Rally Malaysia (August 19-21).


  Driver / Co-driver Nat. Car Gr/Cl Total Time Difference
 Katsuhiko Taguchi A / Mark StaceyJ/AUS Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:40:06.7   
 Jussi Välimäki A / Panu PlosilaFIN Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:42:41.1 2:34.4 
 Seisuke Ohba / Hiroko TakahashiJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:43:04.6 2:57.9 
 Shinsuke Arai / Akiyoshi UchidaJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:44:18.1 4:11.4 
 Dermott Malley A / Stephen SmithNZ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:51:09.8 11:03.1 
 Tetsuji Sakaue / Nobuyoshi HaraJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:51:36.5 11:29.8 
 Kozue Oi / Yumiko ToyamaJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:54:16.8 14:10.1 
 Mitsuhiro Kunisawa A / Anne GigneyJ/AUS Subaru Impreza WRXN/42:54:23.4 14:16.7 
 Alexander Gamayunov / Yuri GolovinRUS Subaru Impreza WRXN/42:55:07.1 15:00.4 
10  Koji Baba / Mitsuhiro OnayaJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:57:36.2 17:29.5 
11  Katsuya Kato / Takako AbeJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/42:58:02.0 17:55.3 
12  Kimihide Terao / Hiroshi ImaiJ Subaru Impreza WRXN/42:58:02.8 17:56.1 
13  Masahiro Nakajima / Akihiko KenmochiJ Subaru Impreza WRXN/43:00:55.4 20:48.7 
14  Tatsuru Saito / Yoshihito NaritaJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/43:02:33.6 22:26.9 
15  Satoru Fujito / Takashi KamemoriJ Subaru Impreza WRXN/43:02:41.8 22:35.1 
16  Shigeo Kobayashi / Kenji MizukoshiJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/43:05:22.8 25:16.1 
17  Aritoshi Mitsukuri / Michiko HasegawaJ Mitsubishi Lancer EvolutionN/43:06:59.7 26:53.0 
18  Hideaki Ito / Brian WendeJ/CDN Subaru Impreza WRXN/43:08:37.1 28:30.4 
19  Tomoyuki Amano / Yukiko InoueJ Toyota YarisA/53:08:37.9 28:31.2 
Nationalities: AUS=Australia / CDN=Canada / FIN=Finland / J=Japan / NZ=New Zealand / RUS=Russia /
A: drivers eligible for FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship points