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Daily Report
2008 FIA ASIA-PACIFIC RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP
ROUND 4: Rally Hokkaido

12 - 13 June 2008

Mitsubishi Wins Dramatic APRC Rally of Hokkaido
Katsuhiko Taguchi / Mark Stacey






Gaurav Gill / Jonathon Mortimer






Scott Pedder / Glen Weston
Team MRF Mitsubishi driver Katsuhiko Taguchi (Japan) won a dramatic Rally of Hokkaido taking victory in the final stages from Hiroshi Yanagisawa (Japan) in the Cusco Subaru by 2.3 seconds and moving into the drivers championship lead with 43 points, 3 points in front of main rival Cody Crocker(Australia).

Rally of Hokkaido is based in the city of Obhiro, but the main event takes place in the forests around Rikebetsu 100 kilometres to the north. Many of the roads used in this years event were previously used by the World Rally Championship Rally Japan and a mixture of forestry and county roads. Months of dry weather ended a few hours before the start, turning the previously dry and dusty route into treacherously slippery tracks, especially in the forestry stages that sit under a canopy of trees.

On the first day Taguchi moved into the APRC lead on stage 2 and after 5 stages held a 15 second advantage over fellow Japanese driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa, with Australian Cody Crocker 5 seconds further back in third. But the event changed dramatically on Stage 6 when a huge rain-storm rolled after the mountains near Rikebetsu just as the drivers entered Puray 2- a 30km stage and the longest of the event. Amidst flashes of lightning, booming thunder and torrential rain the drivers did their best to race in the atrocious conditions, fighting to control their cars in the channels of running water. The leading competitors were slowed by having to push through huge amounts of water and Taguchi second on the road, dropped over 35 seconds to Yanagisawa, who moved into a 20 second lead. At the end of Day 1 Taguchi said " The roads were like a river, even on a long straight we could only get to 100kph because of the water pressure, incredible!. We loose a lot of time but still we are in third place and only 21 seconds from the lead".

The biggest mover was Taguchi's MRF team-mate Gaurav Gill (India) who charged into 2nd place in APRC benefitting partly from his lower start position but also proving that the young Indian has huge potential for the future. At final service Gill said 'Thank goodness we made it back here in one piece. Very pleased with my finish position today and quite surprised we made up so much time on the other guys, but I guess they were clearing the road of the all the water, so its a bit of luck and that's what rallying can be about - especially on a day like today. We plan to do the same tomorrow and hold our position, hope it doesn't rain though we want a dry run" . Gill got his wish for fine weather but unfortunately his challenge only lasted to the 3rd stage of the second day when he retired with a broken gearbox. Also out with gearbox problems was Australian Scott Pedder, retiring in Stage 2.

Day 2 and Taguchi's challenge for the lead started well "This morning we calculated we had 80 kilometres to run and 21 seconds to take the lead". At the mid-day service the gap was down to only 4 seconds, but the final few seconds proved hard to get. "In the afternoon Yanagisawa-san was pushing really really hard and we can only catch him by a half second here and there. It was very close in the end - very tough but a good race. The whole event was very fast, as everyone knows the roads very well - even me. I won Group N here in Rally Japan last year, but then the gap was over one minute, this time only a few seconds - finally we could win this rally, so really really good".

Taguchi's win takes him to the top of the APRC drivers championship points and on track to take the title back he first won in 1999. Rally Hokkaido is Taguchi's second APRC win in 2008 after taking victory in the first round in New Caledonia. The next event on the APRC calendar is the Rally of Indonesia, an event known for extreme heat and thick dust.
 APRC CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Nat Vehicle Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1
AP
Katsuhiko Taguchi
Mark Stacey
J
AUS
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1:47:51.1 **:**
2
AP/A
Hiroshi Yanagisawa
Yoshimasa Nakahara
J
J
Subaru Impreza 1:47:53.4 +2.3
3
AP
Dean Herridge
Chris Murphy
AUS
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:48:56.9 +1:05.8
4
AP/A
Cody Crocker
Ben Atkinson
AUS
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:49:16.7 +1:25.6
5
AP
Rifat Sungkar
Bill Hayes
RI
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:53:27.1 +7:36.0
A : Asia CUP


 FINAL OVERALL CLASSIFICATION
Pos Driver
Co-Driver
Nat Vehicle Total
Time
Diff
Leader
1 Toshihiro Arai
Glenn Macneall
J
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:46:25.6 **:**
2
AP
Katsuhiko Taguchi
Mark Stacey
J
AUS
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1:47:51.1 +1:25.5
3
AP/A
Hiroshi Yanagisawa
Yoshimasa Nakahara
J
J
Subaru Impreza 1:47:53.4 +1:27.8
4
AP
Dean Herridge
Chris Murphy
AUS
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:48:56.9 +2:31.3
5
AP/A
Cody Crocker
Ben Atkinson
AUS
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:49:16.7 +2:51.1
6 Tadao Iizumi
Akihiro Tsuyuki
J
J
Subaru Impreza 1:51:40.9 +5:15.3
7
AP
Rifat Sungkar
Bill Hayes
RI
AUS
Subaru Impreza 1:53:27.1 +7:01.5
8 Yuichi Nakamura
Kenichi Tanaka
J
J
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1:56:02.6 +9:37.0
9 Atushi Masumura
Yukinori Fukumura
J
J
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 1:57:02.9 +10:37.3
10 Koji Baba
Mitsuhiro Onaya
J
J
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2:00:00.3 +13:34.7
11 Tetsuya Ikeda
Kazuya Suzuki
J
J
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2:00:56.8 +14:31.2
13 Tatsuru Saito
Akira Endo
J
J
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2:01:57.2 +15:31.6
20 Tomohide Hasegawa
Nobuyoshi Hara
J
J
Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 2:19:39.2 +33:13.6
AP : APRC registered
A : Asia CUP


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