Wed 09 Nov 2022

WRC2 goes down to the wire in Japan

Three drivers remain in contention for the WRC2 title ahead of this week’s FORUM8 Rally Japan (10 - 13 November).

Ironically, only two of the aforementioned stars are actually competing at this Aichi-based season finale. Andreas Mikkelsen, who tops the standings, is absent having already started seven rallies this year - the maximum permitted in the sport’s premier support category. 

It means that Kajetan Kajetanowicz and Emil Lindholm will be the ones going head-to-head out on the stages and a reasonable finish for either driver would put Mikkelsen out of the running. 

While the Fabia rivals currently sit on identical points, Lindholm has the upper hand when dropped scores are taken into account. Drivers in WRC2 can discount their worst score which means, as it stands, Lindholm drops just three points compared to Kajetanowicz’s eight. 

“Let’s see,” Lindholm said. “The situation is, I would say, quite okay.

"Typically, when a rally is new for everybody it’s better for us. We’re all on the same page and nobody has prior experience, so I guess it could be quite good."

Kajetanowicz is already delighted with what he's achieved so far and remains cool on his title hopes.

“We hold third position among over 120 registered crews [in WRC2], with another top-three finish already secured – so our basic goal has been achieved,” he said. “However, we will do our best and fight for more, as we always do.”

An impressive 17 crews will sample the all-new asphalt speed tests. Other frontline contenders include Teemu Suninen, Fabrizio Zaldivar and Grégoire Munster in a trio of Hyundai i20 N cars plus Sami Pajari, who partners Lindholm in the Toksport squad.

Sean Johnston is back in action with his Citroën C3 Rally2 while ex-Formula 1 racer Heikki Kovalainen fields a Škoda. Local ace and two-time PWRC champion Toshihiro Arai will be another driver to watch in his Citroën C3. 

The WRC2 Masters Cup will also be decided in Japan. Points leader Armin Kremer rounded off his season last time out in Spain but stands to clinch the crown unless Italy’s Mauro Miele can score maximum points this weekend. 

  • 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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