Mon 17 Oct 2022

F1 legend Kovalainen stars in Japan entry

Ex-Formula 1 racer Heikki Kovalainen features in a quality 38-car entry for next month’s FORUM8 Rally Japan (10 - 13 November).

Kovalainen retired from Formula 1 in 2013 and has since turned his hand to rallying, a sport he has followed since childhood. 

The 40-year-old clinched the All-Japan Rally Championship title last month with a Škoda Fabia R5 and is set to make his FIA World Rally Championship debut in the car when Japan returns to the sport’s top level after a 12-year hiatus. 

Native co-driver Sae Kitagawa, who has partnered Kovalainen since 2016, will call the pace notes.

A total of 11 top-tier Rally1 cars will contest the season finale, headlined by world champion GR Yaris driver Kalle Rovanperä. Joining the 22-year-old for Toyota’s home WRC round are Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans plus local hero Takamoto Katsuta. 

Katsuta’s father, Norihiko, also makes his WRC debut in a GR Yaris, albeit not in Rally1-specification. 

Hyundai Motorsport’s i20 N charge is led by Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville, with part-time Spaniard Dani Sordo stepping into the seat of the Korean manufacturer’s third car.

M-Sport Ford fields four Pumas, headed by Craig Breen alongside debuting co-driver James Fulton. Breen is joined by Gus Greensmith and Adrien Fourmaux, while Greek privateer Jourdan Serderidis drives the fourth car. 

Entries from several frontrunning contenders mean the WRC2 championship is likely to go down to the wire. Fabia rivals Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Emil Lindholm are currently locked into a tight scrap for the title, with other stars including Sami Pajari, Grégoire Munster and Teemu Suninen also entered.

Headline image: Facebook - Heikki Kovalainen

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