01 Nov 08
The Suzuki World Rally Team duo of P-G Andersson and his co-driver Jonas Andersson made an excellent start to Rally Japan on Friday and will begin Saturday’s competition in seventh place.
We spoke to Jonas after the pre-event reconnaissance to get his verdict on the stages that make up day two:
“With the exception of the Sapporo Dome Super Special, Saturday’s stages are based in the countryside south of the city, about 50km from the service park. The roads are generally flatter than those on Friday and more of the action takes place in forests. The day features 156 competitive kilometres and is the longest of the rally. It also includes the two longest individual stages of the event. Most of the roads are very fast and have more gravel covering them than Friday’s. If it’s dry we might see more of a road cleaning effect which will benefit the cars running further down the start order.”
Stage by stage:
SS11/15: Imeru - 2.30km
We start off with a short stage designed primarily for spectators. It’s basically like a Super Special or a rallycross circuit. The road is more or less flat, mainly wide and should be good fun to drive. There’s not much else to say about this one.
SS12/SS16: Nikara - 31.12km
The real competition will start here; on the high speed forestry roads of Nikara. It’s really fast right from the start and is a proper, nice long stage. Most of distance of this stage is on narrow roads, so there’s little margin for error. At the 16km point you reach an especially narrow section which is slippery and technical, with a lot of hairpin corners. After that it opens out again and gets faster until the finish.
SS13/17: Kamuycep - 33.66km
Kamuycep is the longest stage of the day and like Nikara it’s based on medium to high-speed forestry roads. I reckon it’s the fastest of the event and the most challenging of the day. For the most part the roads are narrow and extremely fast but there are one or two twisty, technical sections which will bring the average speed down. There’s a bit in the middle which will be particularly tricky because there’s a lot of deep gravel around - forestry workers use it to repair the roads after they’ve taken the timber out. This section was already rutted after the reconnaissance. The run to the finish control should be pretty spectacular; there are lots of big bumps and crests in the road.
SS14/18: Kina - 9.55km
This stage finishes just a few metres from where it starts. On the map you can see it follows a bow-tie shaped loop which makes it pretty unusual. The road itself is a bit slower the others on Saturday and it’s more technical. There was a lot of water and mud at the 7km mark on the recce, so I expect the ground will be badly rutted when we tackle it for the second time in the afternoon. The fact that it will be dark when we do the repeat pass should make it even more interesting...
SS19/SS20: Sapporo Super Special Stage - 1.49km
The day ends with the third and fourth passes through the head-to-head stage built inside the Sapporo Dome. The Super Special shouldn’t cause too many problems. Even though the road surface is extremely smooth and we’re on gravel tyres, at shakedown it gave better grip than I thought it would. If it rains, however, we’ll all need to be careful of the two corners outside - especially as most of the barriers are made of solid concrete.
Detailed information on Rally Japan, including the entry list, itinerary and maps of the stages can be found in the ‘Rallies’ section at wrc.com. This link will take you there.
Follow this link to go directly to the split times page, where you can follow the progress of the cars through each stage.