MITSUBISHI MOTORS

RALLI ART

Report
FIA ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 4: RALLY HOKKAIDO
8 JULY 2007
LEG 2
MITSUBISHI DRIVERS TAKE TWO PLACES ON THE PODIUM FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION

KATSUHIKO TAGUCHI / MARK STACEY
 

KATSUHIKO TAGUCHI / MARK STACEY
 

JUSSI VALIMAKI / JARKKO KALLIOLEPO
 
Mitsubishi drivers filled two places on the podium at Japan’s Rally Hokkaido, round 4 of the 2007 Asia Pacific Rally Championship. Katsu Taguchi(Japan) in a ‘Team MRF Tyre’ Mitsubishi battled the slippery conditions on the super fast roads around Obihiro and the forest north of the city to finish second, while his team-mate Jussi Valimaki (Finland) battled with an upset stomach and fatigue on the first day, to eventually finish 3rd.

The event was held on Japan’s beautiful northern island of Hokkaido, in fine warm weather and with dry and dusty road conditions. As always the event was supported by a large number of Japanese fans waiting by the road to catch their rallying hero’s as they drove by.

Mitsubishi went into the event full of confidence after a successful pre-rally test and initially Taguchi led the APRC competitors after the first stage. However that advantage was lost on the 2nd stage, when current APRC champion Cody Crocker went 7 seconds quicker than Taguchi, moving into the overall lead. At the first service break the gap was only 11.7 seconds and Taguchi was confident he could reverse the order and take back first spot, “We have found some more power in the car at this service and the roads will be much different this afternoon. I think we can get the lead back”. As it turned out Taguchi actually lost more time to Crocker, but by the final service for Leg 1, the gap was only 31.4 seconds and victory was not impossible. “Tomorrow we will change back to a hard compound tyre and push again – the gap is not big and we are going to try hard to win”.

The second day of event was similar to the first, fine and 27 degrees Celsius and even at 6.00 am in the morning, fans lined the route waving flags and taking photos. However the chances for an outright win for Taguchi gradually disappeared as the gap widened further and after 2 stages Taguchi decided that it was better to go for championship points rather than risk everything. At the mid-day service Taguchi said “We tried hard this morning to get back into first place, but the road conditions are just too slippery and tricky to push really hard and catch up the time. Now it’s better to back-off and get the points for second. My team-mate Jussi, is third and a long way back, so we are going for safety – it’s a long championship and after this the APRC moves to Malaysia - my favorite event in Asia”. Taguchi once lived and competed in the Malaysian Rally Championship so that he knows the event well.

Valimaki was not happy with his 3rd position, but considering his physical condition on Saturday he was lucky to finish. “ I think I ate something that didn’t agree with me. I love Japanese food but maybe it doesn’t agree with my delicate Finnish stomach!! I have felt much better today and we pushed hard to at least get some bonus points” said Valimaki at the final service.

Naren Kumar (India) from India bought his Sidvin Mitsubishi home in 5th. With a change in co-driver for this event Kumar upped his pace, regularly finishing in the top 4 times. “Jeff Judd from New Zealand has been my co-driver for this event and it makes a big difference on these roads to have some-one with his experience. I am sure in future we can up the pace” said Kumar at the finish. Driving for the same Reece Jones Motorsport team was New Zealand Brian Green (New Zealand) who finished 7th in the APRC category and 10th overall.

The next event in the APRC is the Malaysia Rally, 10-12th August and held on the Palm Oil Plantation roads in Johor Baru, very near to Singapore.



 FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Vehicle Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
AP
Cody Crocker
Ben Atkinson
Subaru Impreza 2:32:13.0 **.*
2
AP
Katsuhiko Taguchi
Mark Stacey
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 2:33:36.6 +1:23.6
3
AP
Jussi Valimaki
Jarkko Kalliolepo
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 2:34:12.6 +1:59.6
4
AP
Hiroshi Yanagisawa
Yoshimasa Nakahara
Subaru Impreza 2:37:07.1 4:54.1
5
AP
Naren Kumar
D. Ramkumar
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX 2:38:51.2 +6:38.2
6
AP
Rifat Sungkar
Herkusuma Mohamad
Subaru Impreza 2:41:39.6 +9:26.6
7
 
Takuma Kamada
Naoki Kase
Subaru Impreza 2:42:52.6 +10:39.6
8
 
Seiichiro Taguchi
Yasuyuki Atsuchi
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2:44:30.2 +12:17.2
9
AP
Yoshi Ikemachi
Vivek Ponnusamy
Subaru Impreza 2:46:21.6 +14:08.6
10
AP
Brian Green
Fleur Pedersen
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VIII 2:48:17.7 +16:04.7


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