Japanese driver Katsu Taguchi leads his home event, the Rally of Hokkaido after a drama filled day where the lead changed several times. Initially Taguchi was not happy with the handling of his car but the current APRC champion used all his experience of the unique Japanese roads to grab the lead on the last forest stage of the day.
Taguchi’s team-mate Gaurav Gill from India is second, just 22 second off the lead as the two MRF drivers head into the final day in a strong position with their nearest rival Alister McRae (UK) 44 seconds behind.
McRae initially led the event after the first loop of stages but a puncture put him several minutes behind the leaders and seemingly out of contention.
Team-mate and current points leader Chris Atkinson took over the lead and held it until his engine expired in the action final forest stage, resulting in retirement and throwing the championship race wide open.
The Cusco-Pertamina team is 4th and 5th in APRC with Japanese driver Yuya Sumiyama edging ahead of his Indonesian team-mate Rifat Sungkar.
Proton lead both two-wheel drive classes with Malaysian Karamjit Singh leading his Japanese team-mate Akira Bamba by 53 seconds. Initially the pair were separated by only 1 second but Singh showed why he is a multiple champion by pulling out a lead in the afternoon stages. Bamba however is still on track to win the Junior Cup.
There are 65 kilometres of stages on Sunday, with still a good battle at the front of the field.