WRC Japan Sept9-12 talk/results spoiler**
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This is a discussion on WRC Japan Sept9-12 talk/results spoiler** within the Motorsports Talk forums, part of the Community - Meet other Enthusiasts category; Rally Japan Sept 9-12 Official Website: rallyjapan.jp/e/ . --------------------- After a two-year absence, Japan returns to the World Rally Championship ...

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    Cool WRC Japan Sept9-12 talk/results spoiler**

    Rally Japan Sept 9-12



    Official Website: rallyjapan.jp/e/

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    After a two-year absence, Japan returns to the World Rally Championship calendar for the first time since 2008. After several years based in the smaller city of Obihiro, the last running of Rally Japan took place in the metropolis of Sapporo - which hosted the winter Olympics in 1972 as well as the football World Cup in 2002.

    So it's not a place that is lacking in sporting heritage. When it comes to motorsport, few countries greet the arrival of the World Rally Championship with such unrestrained enthusiasm. The drivers are treated like rock stars, with some Japanese fans going so far as to camp out in hotel foyers, in the hope of door-stepping their heroes.

    Despite the move of rally headquarters, the stages are still similar to how they were when the rally was in Obihiro. Japan is a curiously specific event: no other stages anywhere else in the world are in any way similar. The Japanese roads tend to be narrow with soft surfaces, but despite this they are extremely quick. This is partly down to several long straights, which frequently lead to tight 90-degree corners. Getting the braking right is an essential skill in Japan, especially because the braking areas are often slippery with plenty of loose stones.

    The soft gravel, which tends to form deep ruts on the second run through the stages, is one reason why. Another important variable is the weather, which is often wet and cold. Temperatures fluctuate between 10 and 20 degrees Centigrade, frequently reminding people that Hokkaido is a well-known skiing area on the same latitude as Siberia. One of the keys to getting a good result is having a decent set of pace notes. Just like Finland, precision and commitment is the name of the game.

    While damp gravel is the defining characteristic of the surfaces, the rally kicks off with an all-asphalt indoor superspecial in Sapporo, which unusually forms the venue for the shakedown stage as well. The superspecial stage is one that the crews visit frequently: in total it is run eight times!

    That rather sums Rally Japan: it’s hard for the drivers to get into any sort of rhythm on the event as it consists of several short, sharp stages. There are 26 of them in fact, comprising 303 competitive kilometres. Nonetheless, the total route length is 1220 kilometres, meaning that the crews are in for a few long road sections, early starts and late nights.

    Rally Japan is one of the last great adventures left on the calendar, involving flat-out stages, white-gloved taxi drivers, sushi on conveyor belts, and incomprehensible road signs. It’s hard to make sense of it all sometimes. But if it were easy, everybody would do it...

    Click: wrc.com/news/countdown-to-rally-japan/

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    Shakedown Times
    rallyjapan.jp/e/2010/09/shakedown

    -----------------------

    Kimi Raikkonen says his Rally Japan shakedown accident won't have any impact on his approach to the tenth round of the World Rally Championship, which starts on the island of Hokkaido this evening.

    Raikkonen clipped a concrete barrier on his final run at the stage in the Sapporo Dome, tearing the right-front wheel off his Citroen C4 WRC.

    The Citroen Junior Team mechanics have fixed the steering and suspension damage to the car, but the Finn was unable to complete any further runs at shakedown. He drove the 1.57-kilometre stage five times, his quickest time being two seconds down on the Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala’s benchmark.

    “The concrete block was a bit out of line with the others,” said Raikkonen. ”So when I turned in the wheel hit the edge and came off. I don’t think it’s too serious. I’m sure the guys will be able to fix it. These stages [on Rally Japan] are going to be really tricky. If we have a problem, it’s best that we have it now so maybe this is just reminding us to be careful.”

    Raikkonen’s Citroen was repaired ahead of this evening’s two runs at the superspecial stage (which is the same as Shakedown) and the Finn will take the start as expected.

    Latvala was pleased with his fastest time at shakedown, but added a word of warning, pointing out that he completed the stage 10 times compared with Sebastien Loeb who was second quickest after just four laps.

    Latvala’s shakedown was interrupted by an electrical fault which forced him to stop on the road section back to service. The fault was traced to the ECU and fixed by the mechanics. “Shakedown was good,” said Latvala. “I did a lot of runs because I want to practice this kind of superspecial stage. I’m happy with the way it went, but it’s not the same as the stages which are coming for us in the next three days. I am aiming for the podium on this event.”

    Loeb was just 0.4 seconds behind Latvala, with Raikkonen’s Citroen Junior Team team-mate Dani Sordo third quickest. Loeb’s team-mate Sebastien Ogier was fourth fastest with Englishman Matthew Wilson running as the second fastest Ford in fifth place.

    Petter Solberg’s start to the event wasn’t ideal after he suffered a sinus problem. Solberg’s illness kept him out of the pre-event press conference, but he is expected to recover in time for the start of the event this evening.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan Shakedown News

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    SS1



    SS2



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    Sebastien Ogier holds a slender overnight lead of Rally Japan after going fastest on Thursday evening's opening two stages.

    The rally got underway at the Sapporo Dome Super Special, with drivers racing head-to-head over two passes of the 1.57km circuit, which included sweeping hairpin bends and a table-top jump.

    On the first pass, run as SS1, the Frenchman, driving for the Citroen Total team in Japan, was 0.5sec quicker than his closest rival Dani Sordo.

    On the second pass he beat his nearest challenger, Kimi Raikkonen, by eight-tenths. Ogier will carry a two second lead into Friday’s competition, which is based on gravel forest tracks near the city.

    Two time Japan winner Mikko Hirvonen holds second place, with Dani Sordo third and Jari-Matti Latvala fourth. Kimi Raikkonen, who crashed his Citroen C4 at Thursday’s Shakedown, is fifth.

    Click: wrc.com/SS1 & SS2 News

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    Petter Solberg was the fastest driver through Friday's opening stage of Rally Japan - the first 'proper' gravel test of the event.

    Despite suffering from a bout of ‘flu, the Norwegian shot through the 26km Iwanke test 3.2sec quicker than his nearest rival, fellow Citroen C4 driver Sebastien Ogier.

    Ogier led the rally after Thursday’s two Super Special stages and held on to the position after SS3. Solberg however moved up from eleventh place overnight to second, 2.5sec adrift of Ogier.

    Dani Sordo was third fastest on stage three, setting a time 8sec slower than Ogier’s.

    Defending world champion Sebastien Loeb was sixth fastest; 24sec slower than Solberg and baffled by his lack of pace. “There’s no reason. I was trying to push but I cannot keep the car in the line,” he said. “It’s very slippery, so maybe it’s road condition, but not so much. We have to check.”

    Khalid Al Qassimi became the first WRC retirement of the event. The BP Ford Abu Dhabi team driver rolled his Ford Focus 1.2km from the start line.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS3


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    SS4



    Petter Solberg leapt into the lead of Rally Japan on stage four, putting a gap of 8.5sec between himself and second placed Sebastien Ogier.

    Still suffering from the fever he picked up on Tuesday, Solberg also had to contend with a flat right-hand rear tyre three kilometres before the end of the 27km Sikot test - but still managed to set the fastest time.

    BP Ford Abu Dhabi team driver Jari-Matti Latvala was closest to Petter’s stage time - six-tenths adrift - while Dani Sordo rounded off the top three times.

    Running first through Friday’s stages, championship leader Sebastien Loeb was seventh quickest, 14sec slower than Solberg but feeling better about his pace than he had been after SS3. “The [road] cleaning was much less here,” he said. “It’s damper and there’s less gravel so I had a better feeling.”

    After the short 3.57km Koyka stage (SS5) crews will return to the Tsukisamu Dome for a 30-minute service.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS4

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    SS5



    Midday Wrap



    A flu-ridden Petter Solberg drove a near-perfect morning to open a 10-second lead on Rally Japan.

    The Citroen C4 WRC driver was unhappy with the set-up of his car through last night’s two Sapporo Dome stages, but he was quickest out of the blocks when the cars hit the dirt this morning. Fastest through the long stages - Iwanke and Sikot - he was third quickest on the morning’s final short test.

    “It’s been good this morning,” said Solberg. “It’s very fast, but I can still go quicker. I’m happy so far and not feeling too bad. When you start the stages you start to forget about not feeling so well.”

    World Rally Championship leader Sebastien Loeb is sixth at lunchtime 36.6 seconds off Solberg’s rally-leading pace. The bulk of the Frenchman’s time loss came in the morning’s opening test. “I couldn’t find any rhythm in there at all,” said Loeb. “I tried to push, but it just wasn’t working. Maybe it’s the road surface, maybe I’m cleaning - I don’t know.”

    Loeb’s times improved through the next two stages, but running first on the road on the soft and very dry roads was not helping as he swept the loose gravel from the line for the crews behind.

    Given the Sebastien Ogier was just one car behind Loeb, he was driving well to hold second place behind Solberg. “It’s not easy,” said Citroen Total World Rally Team driver. “We are still cleaning the road.”

    Dani Sordo was a trouble-free third with the top-running Ford of Mikko Hirvonen right on his tail, just nine tenths of a second down. Hirvonen admitted the ruts appearing in the road were not making the job easy. Ford’s second Finn, Jari-Matti Latvala, was 6.9 seconds behind Hirvonen.

    “I don’t think I was completely awake on the first stage this morning,” said Latvala. “But it’s better now.” Latvala softened his Ford for the second two stages of the loop and found more grip from the Focus RS WRC.

    The only major retirement from the manufacturer crews was Khalid Al Qassimi, who rolled his Ford on the opening stage this morning.

    Swede Patrik Flodin has moved into the lead of the Production Car World Rally Championship after his fellow Subaru driver, local hero Toshi Arai crashed out on SS5.

    Ford Fiesta S2000 driver Jari Ketomaa leads the Super 2000 World Rally Championship standings by 37.2 seconds from the similarly mounted Martin Prokop.

    Click: wrc.com/Friday/Japan Midday Wrap


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    After a Citroen dominated rally so far, stage six, the first of Friday's repeated tests, proved to be a good one for the Ford team with Jari-Matti Latvala setting fastest time and his team-mate Mikko Hirvonen next quickest.

    Latvala, winner of this year’s WRC rounds in Finland and New Zealand, said he had enjoyed the increasingly rutted road conditions, likening the surface and the cambered corners to a motocross track.

    Dani Sordo however did not have a good stage. The Spaniard dropped from third place to fifth - behind both Ford drivers - after reporting a transmission problem with his Citroen Junior team C4 WRC. “It feels like it’s losing power at the front wheels in the corners,” explained Sordo.

    Petter Solberg set the fourth-fastest time to keep the overall lead, 9.4sec ahead of Sebastien Ogier in second.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS6

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    SS7





    Ford's continuing good fortune on Friday afternoon's stages in Japan continued on SS7, when team-leader Mikko Hirvonen took the stage win - his first of the rally - and moved up to second place.

    Hirvonen completed the repeated 27km Sikot test in 15m 35s - 20 seconds quicker than his time when the stage was run earlier as SS4. Petter Solberg set the second fastest time, to remain in the rally lead by a margin of 9.6sec.

    Sebastien Ogier, who had been in second place, slipped 7sec behind Hirvonen into third. The Frenchman was fourth-fastest but reported no specific problems.

    After voicing transmission concerns on the previous stage, Dani Sordo set the sixth fastest time.

    After the 3.57km Koyka sprint stage (SS8) crews will return to the Sapporo Dome for two more passes over the Super Special stage.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS7

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    SS8




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    SS9




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    End of Day 1
    SS10






    Friday's competition on Rally Japan concluded with a trio of short sprint stages, none of which altered the order of the top 10.

    Mikko Hirvonen was fastest through the 3.5km Koyka test, trimming 1.1sec off Petter Solberg’s rally lead, although the Norwegian clawed back all but one-tenth of that on the two passes over the Super Special which followed.

    Sebastien Loeb was fastest around the Sapporo Dome circuit on the SS9 pass, while Solberg was quickest on the next [SS10] to consolidate an overnight rally lead of 9.4sec.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News After SS10



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    Day 2
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    Overnight leader of Rally Japan Petter Solberg continued to set the pace on Saturday's opening stage - overcoming a start position of first on the road to more than double his lead.

    The Norwegian was the quickest driver through the 17km Nikara in his Citroen C4, and seemed unfazed by the amount of loose gravel on the road which is associated with the opening position in the running order.

    Solberg’s advantage at the top of the standings was helped by a spin in the last few kilometres for the man in second place, Mikko Hirvonen. The Finn now lies 21.5sec adrift, with Citroen driver Sebastien Ogier 2.2sec further back in third.

    Stobart Ford driver Matthew Wilson spun his Ford Focus RS WRC one kilometre from the finish line. Having passed Wilson on the stage, Federico Villagra said the car appeared to be beached on soft ground just off the road.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS11


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    SS12





    Jari-Matti Latvala took a big step closer to the lead of Rally Japan on SS12, with a stage win moving him from fourth to second place overall.

    The Finn was 2.3sec quicker than anyone else though the 33km Kamuycep test, with Sebastien Loeb his closest rival.

    After moving ahead of Mikko Hirvonen and Sebastien Ogier to lie just 7.8sec behind rally leader Solberg, Latvala acknowledged that his position of fourth in today’s start order had helped him on the soft and loose gravel surface.

    Solberg meanwhile was sixth fastest and remained philosophical about the time loss. “The road was cleaning but I’m not complaining about it. It should be less of a problem on the second pass,” he said.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS12

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    SS13



    Petter Solberg lost the lead of Rally Japan on SS13 after incurring a 10 second penalty for a jump start.

    Solberg’s team manager Ken Rees said the timing system showed Petter left the line 0.1sec too early. He added that onboard camera footage would be checked to see if a technical glitch was to blame.

    The penalty dropped Solberg to third, behind Sebastien Ogier, while Jari-Matti Latvala became the new rally leader, despite giving himself a scare on SS13 with a bad pace-note.

    Meanwhile Citroen Junior team driver Dani Sordo edged himself back into winning contention with a stage win - his first of the event - on SS13.

    The short 9km Nikara was the last of Saturday morning’s loop of stages, and as drivers made their way back to Sapporo for the midpoint service the fight for the lead was wide open - with just 14.2 seconds covering the top five.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS13


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    Midday News

    The halfway point of day two of the Rally Japan - the longest day of the rally by just three kilometres - delivered yet more drama.

    Although Citroen privateer Petter Solberg arrived at midday service leading the event by 5.9 seconds, a 10-second jump start penalty incurred on SS13 has now dropped him to third overall.

    The new leader is Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala who now has a 1.6 second advantage over Citroen’s Sebastien Ogier. Solberg has been demoted to just over four seconds behind Latvala in third.

    Solberg, who started the day in the lead, reported that he was feeling slightly better this morning after being laid low with a fever since Thursday. This certainly seemed to be the case, as he set fastest time on the opening stage.

    The biggest loser on the 17.68-kilometre stage was Hirvonen, who dropped around 10 seconds with a spin towards the end of the stage that dropped him 21 seconds behind Solberg. “At least we’re still in the fight,” said Hirvonen afterwards - but the Finn had put himself firmly in the middle of a danger zone with Sebastien Ogier just 2.2 seconds behind him in third and Latvala only 0.5 seconds behind Ogier in fourth.

    It was all the motivation that Latvala needed. He went fastest on the second stage of the morning to suddenly make up two places and promote himself to the runner-up spot. Latvala had a big moment on the third stage of the day due to a mistake in his pace notes, but survived to hang onto second place by just 1.6 seconds over Ogier - which then unexpectedly became first as he reached service.

    “Petter’s penalty certainly makes it interesting!” said Latvala. “My start position helped today. I thought that road position wouldn’t make much difference but the last two stages in particular had a lot of loose gravel on the surface.”

    Read More: wrc.com/Japan Saturday Midday Wrap




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    Stobart Ford team driver Matthew Wilson has talked of his frustration at retiring from Rally Japan with a completely undamaged car.

    Wilson’s half-spin near the end of the Kamuycep stage(SS12) turned into something considerably more sinister when the front wheels dropped into a ditch leaving the rear of the car in the air.

    With no spectators present to help lift the car out, the Briton retired on the spot - and will return under superally regulations tomorrow.

    “I was sat there looking at the car and then at the road and I was sure we could get it back,” said Wilson. “It’s an absolute sickner, but that’s the game sometimes. I remember when Richard [Burns] retired on the way into service on the Safari Rally [in 2002] - I’ve got an insight into how he must have felt at that time. The frustration is massive to be sitting in a car which is absolutely perfect and ready to go to the next stage. We drove the car back here and we’ll superally tomorrow - I only wish we could superally this afternoon!

    “I put the car in reverse, fully expecting to back out of the spin, but the wheels started to spin. I locked the diff, tried again and the same thing happened; I knew then that we weren’t going anywhere in a hurry. If this had happened in Finland, there would have been plenty of people around and we’d have been straight back on the road. I guess that’s the nature of the roads on this rally.”

    Wilson had been lying eighth going into the second day of the event. This is only the second time in 15 rounds of the World Rally Championship that he has failed to finish in the points.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan Matthew Wilson News

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    SS14





    The nip and tuck battle for the lead of Rally Japan continued on the 17km Nikara stage, where the four quickest drivers were covered by just 1.3 seconds.

    After losing the rally lead following a jump start on SS13, a fired-up Petter Solberg attacked hard to take the stage win. However with Jari-Matti Latvala just three-tenths slower, and Sebastien Ogier only one second further back, the Norwegian remained third overall.

    But while the top four drivers remained closely bunched in the overall standings (split by 6.2sec) fifth placed Dani Sordo slipped back by eight seconds. The Spaniard reported no specific problem, but said he had found it hard to keep his Citroen C4 on the racing line on the soft, rutted road surface.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS14

    -------------------------

    SS15



    Jari-Matti Latvala’s chances of victory on Rally Japan suffered a heavy blow on SS15 when a driveshaft broke on his Ford Focus RS WRC.

    Rally leader Latvala was approaching the end of the 33km Kamuycep stage when the right-hand front driveshaft broke.

    He completed the test 4.6sec slower than stage winner Dani Sordo to remain in the lead, but his advantage over second placed Sebastien Ogier was reduced to three-tenths. And with three short stages to run before his team can fix the car in Sapporo, Latvala fears more time loss is inevitable. If his estimate of 20 seconds proves accurate, he would drop to sixth place.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS15


    -------------------------

    SS16





    Petter Solberg moved back into the lead of Rally Japan on SS16 after Jari-Matti Latvala failed to hang on to the position with his three-wheel-drive Ford Focus.

    The broken driveshaft cost Latvala around two seconds per kilometre over the 9km Kina stage and dropped the Finn to fourth in the overall standings.

    Stage winner Solberg holds a 4.3sec advantage at the top of the standings, with Ford team-leader Mikko Hirvonen his closest rival. With Sunday’s running order based on the positions after SS16, Solberg and Hirvonen will be first and second on the road.

    Sebastien Ogier slowed deliberately on SS16 - slotting into third place in an effort to give himself a better position in the final day’s start order.


    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS16

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    Thanks for the updates! Looking good for Petter, but I do see a Frenchman lurking half a minute or so behind
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    SS17




    -----------------------

    End of Day 2
    SS18




    -----------------------
    Saturday Wrap



    Could Rally Japan get any more exciting? Absolutely not. The tens of thousands of fans on the stages south of Sapporo have been treated to one of the most entertaining days in the sport's history.

    And it’s Petter Solberg who emerged as the day two hero - with a 3.7-second lead over Ford’s Mikko Hirvonen.

    Solberg’s dreams of victory were hit by a jump-start penalty on the final stage before lunch, but in typical swashbuckling Solberg style, he refused to let the addition of 10 seconds to his total time dampen his spirits. Arriving at the start of the Kina stage close to the beautiful Lake Shikotsuko, Solberg was in belligerent mood.

    “I don’t care about that [time penalty],” he said. “I can’t change it, so I’ll just have to keep pushing and go flat out.”

    The other thing Solberg couldn’t change was his place on the road for the final day; running first today, he would be the first to finish the stages and, therefore, at the mercy of those behind him. Again, Solberg was unconcerned. “What can I do?” he asked.

    He could do just what he’d done through day one: set fastest times. And he did. He won two of the gravel stages to muscle his way back to the front. “I’m driving as fast as I can,” said Solberg, after re-taking the top spot from Jari-Matti Latvala in the Kina test. The ebullient Norwegian might still look exhausted from the flu which has plagued him since he arrived in the Far East, but he’s sounding more and more like the superstar the sport knows and loves.

    Good as their word, Ford refused to partake in a tactical approach to the afternoon, although looking at Latvala’s time loss through Kina you might have wondered. One glimpse of the frustration etched into Jari-Matti’s face told its own story.

    Five kilometres from the end of SS15, the front-right driveshaft on Latvala’s Ford was damaged. The boot on the driveshaft had split allowing the lubricant for the shaft out and gravel and dirt in. The Focus was forced into three-wheel drive for the last five kilometres of the Kamuycep stage and all of Kina and the two Sapporo Dome superspecials.

    “I didn’t hit anything,” said Latvala. “I don’t know what caused the problem. It’s made the car quite difficult on slow left-hand corners, the car’s not pulling very well out of them and in the right-handers it feels like a rear-wheel drive car with lots of oversteer. Once we get the speed up and we’re in the quicker sections it’s not so bad. I knew the superspecial would be tough, with so many slow corners - we had to be careful in there.”

    In the end, Latvala dropped to fifth as he limped through the spectator stage. Hirvonen, however, remains in the thick of the fight for the win. He’s second, despite a spin on the day’s opening stage. Hirvonen is equidistant between Solberg ahead and Sebastien Ogier behind.

    Read More: wrc.com/Japan Saturday Wrap

    -----------------------

    PWRC News



    Patrik Flodin remains on course for a double triumph after successfully completing day two of Rally Japan.

    Not only is the Swede leading the Production Car World Rally Championship section in his Subaru Impreza, but he is also poised to move to the top of the title standings if he stays in front throughout Sunday’s stages.

    With 25 points heading his way, Flodin will climb above current leader and defending champion Armindo Araujo, who hasn’t nominated the Sapporo-based contest as one of his six scoring rounds.

    PWRC Click: wrc.com/PWRC News

    -----------------------

    SWRC News



    The chase for Super 2000 World Rally Championship honours on Rally Japan has been a two-horse race for much of Saturday after Bernardo Sousa stopped on the day's opening test.

    Sousa, from Madeira, was approximately 500 metres from the start of the 17.68-kilometre Nikara test [SS11] when his Ford Fiesta S2000 ground to a halt with an electrical failure.

    But with Sousa more than one minute adrift of second-placed Martin Prokop at the start of the day, his exit has had little impact on the overall classification, which Jari Ketomaa continues to top by a comfortable margin in his Fiesta.

    Click: wrc.com/SWRC News


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    Day 3
    SS19




    The four way fight for the lead of Rally Japan got off to a thrilling start on Sunday's opening stage, with Sebastien Ogier leaping ahead of Mikko Hirvonen into second place.

    Ogier was 3.3sec quicker than Hirvonen through the short Bisan stage, to move back into the position he gave up on Saturday’s SS16. At the stage end Hirvonen reported a small issue with his Ford’s gear change.

    Petter Solberg was 2.6sec slower than Ogier on the stage but held on to the overall lead - by 2.8sec - and declared himself satisfied with his performance.

    Kimi Raikkonen’s first Rally Japan came to a premature end half way through the stage. Kimi misheard a pace note and his Citroen C4 WRC slid wide and off the road. The car was totally undamaged, but with no spectators around to push him back he was forced to retire. He had been in eighth place.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS19


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    SS20





    Sebastien Ogier became the new leader of Rally Japan after setting the fastest time through SS20.

    The Frenchman moved ahead of fellow Citroen C4 driver Petter Solberg on the 20km Naekawa - the longest of Sunday’s stages - to pull 2.7sec clear at the top of the standings.

    But after reporting a gear change problem on the previous stage, ongoing mechanical issues cost Ford team-leader Mikko Hirvonen his chance of a third Rally Japan victory.

    A failed differential pump affected both the gear change and transmission systems on his Focus RS WRC, costing him 28sec on Naekawa alone and dropping him from third to fifth. With no service opportunity during Sunday’s competition further time loss seems inevitable.

    Hirvonen’s woes allowed Dani Sordo up to third. The Citroen Junior team driver lies 21.5sec behind Solberg.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS20

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    SS21



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    SS22





    With just a handful of forest stages and two final runs over the Sapporo Dome superspecial left, it's still impossible to predict a winner on Rally Japan. However, it's easier to tell who it’s not going to be.

    Mikko Hirvonen picked up a mechanical problem at the start of the day that was initially reported as a differential pump failure, which cost him more than half a minute - dropping him from second to fifth.

    “What we’ve got is a small gearbox problem,” explained Hirvonen. “It’s not so bad on the stages that are quite fast, where you can keep it flat but on the twisty stages, we lose a lot of time as we have to use the manual gearshift.”

    There is no service halt between the eight consecutive stages that make up the final day of the Rally Japan, meaning that Hirvonen will struggle to defend his fifth place from six-time World Champion Sebastien Loeb, now right behind him after two stage wins from the opening three stages.

    Citroen privateer Petter Solberg started the day with a 3.7-second lead but was beaten by Sebastien Ogier’s factory C4 WRC on the first three stages, which moved ahead after SS20.

    After SS22, Ogier held a 4.6sec lead over Solberg and victory is set to be fought out between the two of them. The Norwegian must be bitterly regretting the 10-second jump-start penalty he picked up yesterday, but he has vowed to keep pushing hard to the finish, although he is inevitably losing time by running first on the road.

    “That’s not something I’m really thinking about,” said Solberg. “I don’t really believe in playing games: we’re just going flat-out everywhere. It doesn’t matter.”

    Ogier found the stages more slippery than he expected, even running behind Solberg but he is enjoying the battle on his first visit to Japan in a World Rally Car.

    Read More: wrc.com/Japan News SS22

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    SS23



    Petter Solberg's chances of taking his first WRC victory since 2005 all but disappeared on SS23 when a mechanical problem dropped him six seconds further behind rally leader Sebastien Ogier.

    At the stage end Solberg revealed that his Citroen’s left-hand front damper had broken earlier in the day on SS20, leaving his C4 with increasingly vague steering ever since.

    “There’s about 30mm of play in the steering wheel before I can turn left or right - it’s very difficult to drive,” he explained. “I’m lucky to be here now. Now all I can hope to do is keep my place.”

    With just three short stages of the rally to go, Ogier’s lead stood at a relatively secure 11.3seconds, but further down the order positions were still changing. Stage winner Jari-Matti Latvala moved up to third, ahead of a frustrated Dani Sordo who said he was losing time in the slower corners.

    Sebastien Loeb meanwhile moved up to fifth, ahead of Mikko Hirvonen who continued to struggle with his car’s transmission problem.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS23


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    SS24





    Having cleared the repeated Sunagawa sprint without incident, just 3.14km of Super Special stage stands between Sebastien Ogier and his second world championship rally victory.

    The Frenchman will take a 12.1sec advantage over Petter Solberg into the two short final stages, with Ford driver Jari-Matti Latvala third, 14sec behind Solberg.\

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS24

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    SS25



    ---------------------

    End of Day 3
    SS26






    Sebastien Ogier sealed victory on Rally Japan at the Sapporo Dome super special this afternoon to collect his second rally victory at world championship level.

    The 26-year-old Frenchman, driving for the Citroen Total team, came out on top after a thrilling final day battle which started with the top four drivers split by 15 seconds.

    Contesting Rally Japan for the first time, Ogier won by 15.7sec from fellow C4 WRC driver Petter Solberg, who picked up a broken front damper in the closing stages of the rally.

    Jari-Matti Latvala finished third, 10.3sec adrift of Solberg, in his BP Ford Abu Dhabi team Focus, with Citroen Junior team driver Dani Sordo 9.2sec further back in fourth.

    World Championship leader Sebastien Loeb ended the rally in fifth place, 53.3sec behind Ogier.

    Click: wrc.com/Japan News SS26



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    Sebastien Ogier has cemented second place in the World Rally Championship with a stunning debut win on Rally Japan - the second of his career - in Sapporo this afternoon.

    The 26-year-old from France started the final day 5.4 seconds adrift of overnight leader Petter Solberg in third place but moved in front with the fastest time through the first Naekawa stage.

    With Solberg’s privately-run Citroen C4 WRC hampered by a suspected broken damper and erstwhile second-placed driver Mikko Hirvonen’s Ford Focus suffering a differential pump failure, Ogier faced little resistance as he stormed to victory on the 10th round of the season in his factory C4.

    “It’s amazing really and I’m really happy,” said Ogier, who eventually won by 15.7s. “Arriving here for my first time I knew it was a difficult rally because I don’t like stages that are very rough. But quickly I found a good feeling and a good rhythm.”

    Despite reporting a serious steering problem on top of the damper issue, which Solberg’s eponymous team had no opportunity to repair due to the lack of a midday service halt, the Norwegian managed to soldier to the finish in second place. “I never thought it would go so well after the fever because I was terrible at the start of the rally,” said Solberg. “But I had a very good feeling. It’s just unfortunate we had a problem with the car.”

    A hamstrung Hirvonen, a double winner in Japan, was less fortunate, however, as he grappled with a troublesome gearchange and was unable to prevent Sebastien Loeb from demoting him to sixth on the second run through Naekawa.

    Loeb was off song throughout the event but his capture of 10 points for finishing fifth puts him on the brink of his seventh world title, which he can secure with victory on his home event, Rallye de France, which takes place from September 30 - October 3. He rounded off Rally Japan by winning three of Sunday’s six gravel stages.

    Read More: wrc.com/Japan Ogier Victory

    ---------------------



    Jari Ketomaa has maintained his commanding advantage in the Super 2000 World Rally Championship section of Rally Japan throughout the final day to secure a dominant victory over Martin Prokop.

    Ketomaa, from Finland, was fastest on the opening superspecial stage in the Sapporo Dome on Thursday evening to build a lead he would never relinquish at the wheel of his Autotek Motorsport-run Ford Fiesta S2000.

    Co-driven by fellow Finn Mika Stenberg, Ketomaa was fastest on 13 of the 26 stages to land his third win in the class this season, more than half a minute clear of Czech Prokop, who was also in a Fiesta.

    “The rally was all about not making any mistakes and trying to keep my consistency because I had a big lead from the first proper stage on Friday,” said Ketomaa. “Winning for the third time this season is a very good feeling and it is very good for my chances of the championship.”

    Read More: wrc.com/Japan SWRC Wrap


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    With Patrik Flodin and Hayden Paddon out clear in first and second places respectively in the Production Car World Rally Championship on Rally Japan, the battle for the last podium spot took centre stage on the final day of the Sapporo-based event.

    Michel Jourdain started Sunday’s first stage in third place with Gianluca Linari and Paulo Nobre firmly in contention. Linari, from Italy, was 23.5s down on the Mexican, while Brazilian Nobre was a further 21.2s behind Linari leaving first service.

    Although the gap between Jourdain and Linari for the final podium spot continued to fluctuate, rally rookie Jourdain appeared to be fending off the veteran Italian only to crash out after the flying finish of stage 22. The impact tore a wheel off Jourdain’s Mitsubishi Lancer and resulted in his instant retirement.

    With Nobre stopping on Sunday morning when his Lancer developed an overheating problem, Linari was unchallenged on his run to third behind Paddon and the dominant Flodin, who now takes the lead of the P-WRC standings from Armindo Araujo, who was not competing in Japan.

    “It’s always great to get a victory but to come away from here with 25 points is also very important for the championship and I’m really pleased to be leading again,” said Flodin, who, along with navigator Goran Bergsten, was fastest in class on 13 stages. “Unfortunately I won’t be doing the next rally in France because I have already done five rallies so I only have Rally GB left. But after not finishing in Finland I really had to get a good result here, which is what I have done.”

    Read More: wrc.com/Japan News PWRC Wrap

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    Championship Standings:
    wrc.com/results/

    -----------------------

    Next: Round 11 Rallye De France 01 - 03 Oct 10



    Official Website: rallyedefrance.com/gb/


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