Rally Hokkaido is proving to be the most challenging event of the APRC season so far, with torrential rain and number of retirements mixing up the leader board.
The rain has been so heavy that stages 3, 7 and 8 were all cancelled, the roads nearly impassable, with unconfirmed reports the zero slid off the road while making the final safety pass of stage 3.
Spectators at the event say there is an enormous amount of standing water on the roads, and this worked against series leader Cody Crocker who was first car onto Saturdays five stages. Crocker had lost some time during the day to both Katsu Taguchi and Hiroshi Yanagisawa, but was still within 25 seconds of Taguchi at the start of stage 6, the stage that proved to be the final stage of day 1.
A thunderstorm dumped massive amounts of water just before the start of stage 6, with Crocker fairing the worst and dropping 3 minutes over the 30km test. In fact, all the leading cars suffered, with Yanagisawa and Indian champion Guarav Gill jumping into first and second places, Taguchi hanging onto third and Dean Herridge maintaining 4th place.
But at least Crocker was still in contention. Scott Pedder’s season of bad luck has followed him to Japan, the MRF driver sidelined after stage 1 with gearbox failure, while Yuya Sumiyama suffered early suspension damage and Takuma Kamada rolled on stage 2.
In the overall standings, Toshi Arai is way out in front with a 1:37min lead to Yanagisawa.
The crews have been re-order for Sundays ten stages, meaning Yanagisawa and Gill will have to contend with conditions that are not expected to improve.
Unofficial Standings After Day 1 (APRC Crews Only)
1 H. Yanagisawa
2 G. Gill +15.8 sec
3 K Taguchi +5.9
4 D Herridge +22.0
5 C Crocker +68.3
6 R Sungkar +1:31.3
Photos courtesy of www.rally-hokkaido.com .