Fri 10 Nov 2023

Rally Rewind: Japan 2022

The final round of the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season begins in less than one week’s time. Today we look back at what went down last year at FORUM8 Rally Japan.

Hyundai’s heroics
Having already finished second to Toyota Gazoo Racing in the manufacturers’ championship, Hyundai Motorsport headed to Japan – the home of their arch rivals – eager to get revenge. And the Korean marque did exactly that.

Thierry Neuville and Ott Tänak, both driving identical i20 N Rally1 cars, locked out the leading two positions as the event returned to the WRC for the first time since 2010. Neuville initially battled with GR Yaris foe Elfyn Evans before taking the lead on the penultimate day when the latter stopped to change a wheel.

"Winning here in Japan against Toyota is maybe the extra motivation we were looking for,” said Julien Moncet, team principal at the time. “It's a special taste for this one.”

Sordo’s smoky exit

While there were celebrations for Neuville and Tänak, their team-mate Dani Sordo had a rally to forget.

The Spaniard’s car went up in flames in the rally’s second stage and, despite his and co-driver Cándido Carrera’s best efforts, they were unable to extinguish the blaze.

Fortunately nobody was harmed in the incident although Sordo’s Hyundai, unsurprisingly, was left beyond repair.

Taka’s home pride
For Takamoto Katsuta, competing with the support of his home fans was special already. Rounding out the weekend on the final step of the podium was the icing on the cake.

It marked the Japanese star’s second top-three result of the season and ensured he ended the year as the most consistent driver, finishing all but one of the 13 rounds inside the top eight positions.

“It is a very special feeling to be on the podium in my home country," he said. "I need to say a huge thanks to the many fans who were supporting us and cheering for us everywhere – on the stages and also on the road sections."

Champions crowned
Emil Lindholm and Reeta Hämäläinen claimed the 2022 WRC2 drivers’ and co-drivers’ titles after finishing third in streaming-wet conditions on Sunday afternoon.

Lindholm knew a top-five finish in Japan would be enough to seal the crown and so drove his Škoda Fabia Rally2 accordingly in the closing kilometres. The cautious approach saw him slip behind Teemu Suninen's i20 in the rally classification, but it was no matter - the job was done.

Another champion was celebrated as Italy's Mauro Miele won the WRC2 Masters Cup - clinching the overall title by four points over Armin Kremer.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM