Arai, Crocker win in Hokkaido

Mitsubishi cars again finished on the podium in the lastest round of the 2006 Asia Pacific Rally Championship, the Rally of Hokkaido in Japan. Local star Katsuhiko Taguchi again proved his worth by finishing 3rd in APRC with team-mate Jarkko Miettien not far behind in 4th. Both drivers were driving brand new Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IX, prepared by the Race Torque team and running on MRF tyres.

The Rally of Hokkaido is based in the city of Obihiro, with competition held in the beautiful forests and hills nearby. The event was held in cool summer conditions, with the 230 kilometres of competition roads dry and dusty, but in excellent condition. The drivers found the roads quite rough on the 2nd passage through and this required they adapt their driving to suit the tricky conditions.

The brand new MRF Mitsubishi Lancers were impressive throughout the event and set times in the top 5 throughout the rally. At the completion of the first days rallying in the new cars, both drivers were satisfied with their positions and made small adjustments to the suspension that would further improve their times on the 2nd day.

At the last service before the ceremonial start, Taguchi reflected on another solid finish for the team, “The car was very good and ran faultlessly, especially as these were brand new cars. The car performance is very good, but we still have some way to go, to get the perfect set-up – at the moment only about 90% performance, next event maybe 93-94%. I think the next round of Asia-Pacific in Malaysia will be better for the car and for myself I have plenty of experience from the Malaysian championship and hope we can win.”. Taguchi moves into 2nd position for the drivers championship with 30 points.

For Taguchi’s team-mate Jarkko Miettinen from Finland this was a event to re-build his championship hopes and on the second day of the event, as his confidence returned Miettinen’s pace quickened and to prove that, he set the fastest time on SS14 and collected a bonus point for finishing 3rd fastest on day 2. “A little disappointed as we are here to win and get maximum points, but overall its was good to finish, collect 6 points and today was a good driving day for us – we drove less aggressively, more smooth and the times begun to get better from there”.

The MRF Mitsubishi team now moves to Malaysia for the next round of the APRC on August 18-20. Malaysia is well known for its heat and humidity – and sudden tropical downpours that can instantly turn the fast rubber plantation roads into muddy and extremely slippery jungle tracks.

Rally Hokkaido 2006 – Final Results
1. Toshihiro Arai/ Tony Sircombe, Subaru Impreza WRX, 2:25:19.2
2. Takuma Kamada/Hakaru Ichino, Subaru Impreza WRX, +1:33.5
3. Cody Crocker/Ben Atkinson, Subaru Impreza WRX, +1:33.9
4. Hiroshi Yanagisawa/Tadashi Misaizu, Subaru Impreza WRX, +2:50.3
5. Katsuhiko Taguchi/Mark Stacey, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, +3:56.0
6. Jarkko Miettinen/Mikko Markkula, Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution IX, +4:04.3
7. Eli Evans/Matt McAdam, Subaru Impreza WRX, +6:44.8
8. Daisuke Yamada/Takumi Takahashi, Subaru Impreza WRX, +10:13.4

Source: Mitsubishi Motorsport