Tue 21 Nov 2023

Japan's WRC magic: Season finale leaves lasting impressions

Just when you thought you’d seen it all from another stunning season in the FIA World Rally Championship, Japan delivers a little extra.

The emotion at last week’s FORUM8 Rally Japan was extraordinary. From Thursday’s incredible Toyota City stadium super special through the next four days, the atmosphere simply didn’t dip. The fans are some of the most grateful, polite and utterly enthusiastic of the year.


And the teams love it.


Eyeing the perfect model of his Hyundai i20 N Rally1 Hybrid sitting on the head of a fan, Thierry Neuville smiled.


“This place is really special,” he grinned. “The fans here are amazing, they love the sport and you can really feel it. It’s a pleasure to come here.”


Then Takamoto Katsuta emerges from the Toyota Gazoo Racing corner of the service park and noise levels in Toyota City are taken to another level. Katsuta was a hero before the rally started, but as he reeled off stage win after stage win, the expectation and appreciation went through the roof.


Standing among thousands of fans on a sunny, blue-skied liaison section on Saturday, the vibe was amazing. There were flags and messages for every driver and co-driver, but Katsuta stole the show. When he stopped his Toyota GR Yaris Rally1 alongside a young fan holding a picture of Taka, a memory was made, a bond forged and a forever friendship created.




Katsuta waved, the child stared, dropped her flag and waved longer and cheered louder than anybody. She will never forget that moment.


It’s impossible to leave Japan without those unforgettable memories. Whether it’s Friday’s rain, the noise of cars exiting Isegami’s Tunnel or autumn colours backdropped by a snow-capped reminder that winter’s knocking on the door, you don’t forget FORUM8 Rally Japan.


Arigatō.

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