Mon 07 Nov 2022

Rally rewind: Japan 2010

A new challenge awaits as the FIA World Rally Championship returns to Japan this week. Before that, though, let’s cast our minds back to the last visit in 2010 when the event was gravel-based.

1: Ogier’s dream debut
Ogier, now an eight-time WRC champion, wasn’t feeling too confident ahead of the Sapporo-based fixture. Unlike many of his rivals, the Frenchman was making his Japanese debut and the rough nature of the gravel stages wasn’t quite to his liking.

After snatching the early advantage, he was unable to hold off a charging Petter Solberg and started the final day in third overall. But a good run through the closing tests - aided by Solberg hitting trouble - saw Ogier climb to the front, clinching victory by just 15.7sec in his Citroën C4.

“It's amazing,” Ogier said at the time. “When we arrived here I knew it would be a difficult rally for me. I don't like these kinds of stages - it's very rough and it's my first time. But we quickly found a good rhythm and now we are winning, it's perfect.”

2: Solberg overcomes the flu
Solberg was - and still is - a firm fan favourite in Japan, although he was not his usual self in 2010. The Norwegian came down with a bout of flu which left him feeling under the weather, particularly on the opening day. 

It didn’t seem to alter his on-stage pace too much, however, and the Citroën privateer was well and truly locked into the victory fight. 

A ten-second jump-start penalty didn’t help matters and, when a front track control arm worked its way loose on Sunday morning, he was forced to settle for second behind Ogier. 

3: Arai’s dramatic exit
Subaru stalwart Toshihiro Arai was targeting his third PWRC title in 2010 and things started well on his home event. Three stages in, he and co-driver Dan Barritt led the category and held 12th overall. 

But, on the fourth test, it all unravelled. Arai was a passenger as his Impreza N15 got out of shape after a jump and the car barrel rolled into the trees, marking an early bath. 

Arai starts this week’s fixture in a WRC2-specification Citroën C3 Rally2. It’ll be the first time he’s ever contested the event in a non-Subaru car.

4: Loeb lacks pace
It was, by his own high standards, an underwhelming weekend for Citroën driver Loeb. With one eye on claiming his seventh world title, Loeb was unexpectedly cautious. 

Set-up tweaks unlocked improved pace from his C4 on the final day but Loeb was unable to challenge the leading runners. He eventually finished a disappointing fifth overall. 

5: Citroën mechanics shine
Citroën’s mechanics were put through their paces when ex-Formula 1 world champion Kimi Räikkönen’s C4 required a new gearbox. Amazingly the team had the old unit removed and replaced within just 12 minutes!

Sadly Räikkönen was unable to repay their efforts and crashed out of eighth overall on Sunday’s opening stage.  

  • Full coverage from FORUM8 Rally Japan will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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