Rally Hokkaido Preview

Next week is round 2 of the 2010 Asia Pacific Rally Championship and the series heads to Japan’s most northern island Hokkaido.

Once again the Kita Aikoku Service Park, that has been used previously by both Rally Japan and Rally Hokkaido, will be the centre of many activities around the rally programme. It is a state of the art community facility with several thousand square metres of hard stand tarmac, plus gravel.

A rally show on Friday evening at 4.30pm will be an opportunity for all the local fans to meet the drivers and view the cars. Headquarters and the media centre will be located at the Grand Vrio Hotel, on top of a hill in Makubetsu.

The lush vegetation is one of the features of the Japanese rally – the stages are fast and narrow, and the pace notes have to be very accurate as the grass and bushes by the side of the road can often be covering some deep ditches. Hokkaido has a climate of extremes. From December to February the temperature rarely rises above zero. Rikubetsu, the location of the service park for 2 services on Day 1, is one of the coldest locations in Japan. In summer, in contrast, the temperatures in Tokachi can be 35 degrees Celsius plus. (Updated weather report Rikubetsu 3 degrees 13 May, predicted to go to 20c this weekend).

The other climactic idiosyncrasy are the early sunrises – during the rally the sun will rise at 0359hrs. It is a fertile basin, with volcanic soil. In late May, the countryside will be overwhelmingly green with tree buds(or even could be Cherry blossoms!).

The points standing after Malaysian Rally show MRF Tyres team driver, Katsuhiko TAGUCHI leads the field. Rally Hokkaido always provides interesting results with 2 of the top drivers being consistently quick on their home event, Katsuhiko TAGUCHI and Hiroshi YANAGISAWA. These 2 drivers will ensure that the pace is fast in an attempt to score well in both the APRC and Asia Cup standings.

With the 2 entries with the Proton team, Alister McRAE and Chris ATKINSON, there is sure to be plenty of action and drama as these top drivers battle it out with the 2 Japanese drivers who have dominated this event in previous years.

Rally Hokkaido this year will also include 4 Wild Card entries as nominated by the Japan ASN, JAF. These are Sumiyama, Masumura, Takahashi and Ito. These drivers will score APRC and Asia Cup points.

Source: Event Release