Eight teams are entered, which also qualifies as the penultimate round of the Asia Cup. While six are Japanese locals there is one driver pairing from Taiwan and the other from New Zealand – in a brand new car.
Mike Young, with ring-in co-driver Glenn Macneall, will debut the brand new Toyota C-HR alongside a slew of other competing Toyotas, Subarus and Mitsubishis.
From the open plains and sweeping roads near host city Obihiro to the lush green forestry and stages that thread their way through the mountain regions to the north, Rally Hokkaido delivers plenty of variety.
Beginning with Friday’s rally show and ceremonial start the cars then tackle the 1.47km Super Special Stage adjacent to the service park.
Sunday’s remaining eight stages are held just to the north of Obihiro with five in the morning and the final three taking up the early afternoon. The rally concludes with a ceremonial finish at the service park location of Kita Aikoku.
The weather is typical early autumn with relatively more rainfall. Daily temperatures range between 16-23 degrees Celsius, dropping to single digits overnight. The weekend’s forecast is for cloudy periods and possible rain for Sunday.
Cusco photos: Mitsuru Kotake
1, Michael YOUNG / Glenn MACNEALL, NZ/AUS, TOYOTA C-HR, CUSCO RACING, RC2
2, Atsushi MASUMURA / Shizuka TAKEHARA, JPN/JPN, MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION X, SUPER ALEX TROOP, RC2
3, Dewei LIN / Jingjing HE, TWN/CH, SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI SpecC, CUSCO RACING, RC2
4, Fuyuhiko TAKAHASHI / Mitsuo NAKAMURA, JPN/JPN, SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI, Ahresty Rally Team, RC2
5, Mitsuhiro AOKI / Shigeru IKEDA, JPN/JPN, MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION X, IMMENS MOTORSPORT,
6, Tomohide HASEGAWA / Yasuyuki ATSUCHI, JPN/JPN, MITSUBISHI LANCER EVOLUTION X, HASEPRO RACING
7, Yuki KOHAMA / Megumi FUJITA, JPN/JPN, TOYOTA 86, TRD, RC3
8, Nao OTAKE / Noriko TAKESHITA, JPN/JPN, TOYOTA VITZ, CUSCO RACING, RC5