Day one of Japan’s Rally Hokkaido was dominated by Indian driver Gaurav Gill driving an MRF Tyres Skoda S2000.
Gill briefly lost the lead to Alister McRae after incurring a 10 second penalty for leaving the first service 1 minute late, however the MRF driver soon got that back and then extended the lead with a big push on Stage 5.
Proton driver Alister McRae tried his best to stay in touch with the MRF Skoda, but was forced to back off in the afternoon when the S2000 engine started to get hot. The Scotsmen’s challenge and any hope of retaining his championship ended early on Day 2 when the engine finally cried enough.
That left Gill with a seemingly easy run to victory, but then he too suffered mechanical problems, the Skoda’s clutch failing at the start of stage SS15.
Finland Juha Salo left the start thinking he was now in the lead but his run in first place only lasted two kilometres before the Proton driver ripped off a wheel on a hidden concrete culvert.
With the three very fast S2000 cars out of the event, it was Yuya Sumiyama’s turn to take the lead in his Group N Cusco Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 10. The Japanese driver held onto to the top spot to the finish, winning the APRC category and taking maximum points in his bid to win back the Asia Cup.
New Caledonian driver Daniel Palau was second in APRC and the Asia Cup, while amazingly Karamjit Singh was third in his Proton Satria also winning the two-wheel drive category.
Akira Bamba clinched his second Junior Cup title, after early leader Mike Young crashed off in SS6.Kenneth Koh was second in the Junior Title points, his Proton Satria still sporting the scratches from a shakedown roll-over.
See all the action from the two wheel drive category here: http://youtu.be/G1FgssB0V4I
The Asia Pacific championship now heads to China for the final round where New Zealander Brian Green now second overall in the drivers points has an outside chance of taking the title, if the current leader Chris Atkinson fails to finish.
PHOTO: M Kotake