Mon 13 Nov 2023

Japan Countdown: Route + Maps

The curtain falls on the 2023 FIA World Rally Championship season this week when FORUM8 Rally Japan, based in Aichi, hosts round 13 of 13.

Japan returned to the WRC in 2022 following a 12-year hiatus and, boasting a new all-asphalt format, proved to be a huge hit with the drivers and fans alike. Barring a few small tweaks, the route remains almost unchanged for 2023.

An exciting addition this time around is the inclusion of a brand-new super special stage which takes place within the confines of the iconic Toyota Stadium. Aptly named ‘Toyota SSS’, the two-at-a-time test opens proceedings on Thursday evening and will be attended by around 40,000 fans.

Friday is the longest day of the rally and boasts seven stages comprising a total competitive distance of 133.26km. Up first is Isegami’s Tunnel (23.67km), made famous by the daunting tunnel which claimed Kajetan Kajetanowicz’s Škoda Fabia Rally2 Evo in 2022. Dani Sordo also came unstuck in this stage when his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 caught fire.

Inabu Dam (19.38km) is faster and more flowing, while the latter half of Shitara Town (22.53km) is new for this year. The trio are repeated after a 40-minute service halt before another blast through Toyota SSS rounds out the day.

Saturday is shorter but certainly no less challenging. It starts with Nukata Forest (20.32km) - the stage which ended WRC champion Kalle Rovanperä’s podium hopes in 2022 when he stopped to change a wheel after hitting a rockface.

The 14.78km Lake Mikawako is up next before double runs of the Okazaki City super special (2.84km) – revised and extended for this year – lead the crews into a midday tyre fitting zone.

Nukata Forest and Lake Mikawako are repeated in the afternoon ahead of Shinshiro City (6.70km), which had the highest average speed last year. A 45-minute evening service halt precedes the third and final run of Toyota SSS.

Sunday's finale boasts six stages with no opportunity for service. Ena City (22.92km), Nenoue Kougen (11.60km) and Asahi Kougen (7.52km) are each tackled twice, with the second passage of the latter forming the bonus points-paying Wolf Power Stage.

The 22 stages tally 304.12km in a total route of 958.95km.

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM