Category Archives: Hokkaido Rally

A minute with Stephane Prevot

His thoughts on the APRC and recently concluded Rally Hokkaido:

“For sure it’s not a great start of the season but we’ll stay positive and we really enjoy it because the car is really good fun to drive. The car was working perfectly with the exception of the engine that resulted from yesterday which may have damaged it. It looks a tad challenging for the championships as we don’t have as much points after the two rallies as compared to others but we’re positive because we enjoy driving this car and working with the team. All the mechanics and people involved did a great job, and they managed to fix the car when it was in a bad condition and made it on time which is a great thing.

The next rally will probably be on the best rally roads in the world. New Zealand is always a rally that everyone likes; even with world championship drivers so we’re looking forward to Rally New Zealand. We’ll be driving in Belgium a week before New Zealand. I’m from Belgium, so I’m really proud to drive there with Chris in front of all the Belgian people and it’s also Chris’ first time driving there. We are really looking forward to New Zealand; we’re positive that have a good chance to win, we’ll have a lot of fun driving there and as I said earlier, the roads are the best in the world!”

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Rally Hokkaido – Final day recap


What a day it was yesterday, and a long one too.

Congratulations to Japanese driver Katsuhiko Taguchi who won Rally Hokkaido, round two of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship. He was 27.8 seconds behind lead Gaurav Gill, and he closed the gap on Gill during the opening two forest stages, moving to the top after the 10.78km at Honbetsu. It was victory for them all the way thereafter, with their MRF Tyres Mitsubishi Evo X car.

On the opening stages of the first leg, Alister McRae suffered 2 successive punctures and lost almost 1 minute. Worst was yet to come, as his rally ended shortly after, when a rock damaged the sump of the Proton Satria Neo S2000. Chris retired after his Proton suffered engine problems from a bent valve.

The second leg of the rally started out well for our team with both drivers putting in a solid drive. After encountering engine trouble from day 1, Chris and Alister returned to the rally under Super Rally regulations on day 2. Both did good and set their times in the top five before Chris had to stop (on the road section after the final forest stage of the event). Unfortunately, Chris’s engine faced similar problems after the final special stage of the day forcing him into retirement.

Alister eventually finished 3rd yesterday, and collecting 3 very important APRC championship points.

Detailed results for the entire rally can be found here.

Back at the service park after the rally, everyone seemed a little disappointed but were still in high spirits nevertheless. We are sure they learnt a lot from the rally, information they can use as base to improve the car for the future.

Fan support was once again fabulous, they came in large groups, some with their families and others with friends. To our Japanese fans, domo arigato! Whilst for our fans here who have been following us closely on this blog during Rally Hokkaido, A BIG THANK YOU for your endless support!

We’ll be back with more updates in the days to come. Till then, we’ve got to pack and get ready to come home. Farewell, Obihiro!

Rally Hokkaido – Day 1 recap

The usually quiet city of Obihiro comes alive this weekend as we witness round two of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2010. Engines roaring, hundreds of fans cheering and overall excitement in the air sums up day 1 of Rally Hokkaido.

Beautiful Hokkaido scenery awaits spectators to Rally Hokkaido

Today witnessed a setback for our team, as Alister McRae slowed in SS3 by two punctures. Then Chris Atkinson faced an engine problem at the beginning of stage 5 and retired. Next we were sad to hear that Alister had hit a huge rock in the same stage causing him to retire as well.

Our car in action

After setting 2nd fastest time on the 25km SS2, Alister was unfortunate to suffer that puncture, and yet another puncture on SS3 which ripped the tyre to shreds forcing him to run SS4 with the tyre punctured on SS2 earlier. He still managed 9th fastest though.

1 rim, and 2 tyres busted in just 3 special stages

And the good news is that team PROTON will be back tomorrow competing in the super rally. We remain hopeful and positive, as always.

In overall results, after Stage 11 (final stage of day 1) Gaurav Gill leads APRC by 5.1 secs from his team-mate Taguchi. Cusco’s Horishi Yanagisawa is 8. 4 seconds back in 3rd. Yuya Sumiyama is 4th; more or less three minutes behind the leader. For the complete APRC Rally Day 1 results, click here.

We’ll elaborate on the details of what happened to Alister and Chris during day 1 in posts to come, for now I am just a little tired and need some sleep. Tomorrow we will all have to be up and ready at the service park by 530-600 am. The day ahead looks hopeful, let’s see how it goes.

No sake for us tonight, I guess. Goodnight, everyone.

Rally Hokkaido – in the land of Sushi

Sushi is everywhere here (obviously!). We’ve had pretty much nothing but sushi since we got here. Tastes pretty good and fresh, way better than the ones we have back home. We had some awesome ramen late last night after a long and tiring day, and in such cold weather it was a delight to have something so warm and tasty.

Ramen cost us around 680 yen. By the way that’s chicken meat.

Obihiro is a quiet city. We’re still getting used to the serene setting, since we come from one of the most busiest and exciting cities in the world; let’s give it up for Kuala Lumpur! I’m sure some of us here are missing our mamak stalls already. I know I will be having tosai withdrawal symptoms in another day or two but right now I am good, enjoying the wonderful food here whenever we have the time.

Sushi set costs around 1,300 yen

Today the second round of the Asia Pacific Rally Championship (APRC) 2010, kicks-off.  It appears to be a competitive setup, with the rally comprising of 18 challenging stages covering a total of 220.97 km. It’s a mix terrain. There may be snow in some forest stages which may complicate conditions and slow down cars. In short, the pace of our cars will be dependent on the unpredictable weather so let’s cross our fingers.

We’ll be back tonight to post a recap of the day and more pictures. Stay tuned, be good.

Rally Hokkaido – Shakedown action


The shakedown, rally show and ceremonial start that took place yesterday was witnessed by approximately 7,500 people at the Kita Aikoku Service park. Looking at our cars lined up, I felt a sense of pride. Here we were in Japan, competing with the world’s best. PROTON has indeed journeyed a long way.

It was also the start of the first stage (Super Special) which saw a cool performance by our drivers and cars. Alister and Bill clocked 1.01.0 and Chris and Stephan clocked 1.01.4 . MRF’s Katsuhiko Taguchi with co-driver Chris Murphy clocked the fastest time of 1.00.5 during the 1.2-km Super Special Stage, ahead of teammate Gaurav Gill and co-driver Glenn MacNeall, who came out fourth at 1.01.2. Complete results listing here.

The fan base in Japan is simply awesome. The masses of fans went all out to get the driver’s autographs, with some even bringing with them posters, banners and even cards for the drivers to sign on. They came from all walks of life too. We saw a lot of lovely Japanese children and elderly women besides the normal fan demographics. How’s that for a complete fan base? The drivers were in top spirits, entertaining all their fans.

At the pre-event media conference also held yesterday, when asked impression of the roads that he’d done recce on and how confident he was to do rally in the two days to come, McRae said that for him it was obviously good to see some in car footage and he watched videos to get an idea. He mentioned that he could see that the stages may be faster than he thought. Nevertheless, he was looking forward to it.

As for Atkinson, even though he knew most of the roads, but this year it’s four new stages to ride on, except for Rikubetsu. The stages are reverse, and are much faster in places. Atkinson didn’t think it was ideal, as he mentioned they like fast stages but when it’s straight roads, it is not as much fun.

Having said that, our drivers are indeed really looking forward to rally day and, most of all, to achieving results everyone’s hoping for. We’re confident for team Malaysia and let’s see how we do today.

Rally Hokkaido – Scrutineering day

Konnichiwa!

We’ve arrived in Tokachi, Hokkaido. Today the temperature was 10 degrees in the day and dropped much lower at night. It is indeed cold! The Japanese people however are warm and just lovely. Wherever we went they were ever courteous and friendly, making our long journey to Obihiro a pleasant one.

Obihiro

Obihiro is where we’re at now and it’s a beautiful place. We didn’t have much time to look around because as soon as we got to the hotel and checked in, we had to rush off for the scrutineering. The place was a hive of activity. You’ll find loads of pictures on our Facebook page. Here’s more:

Service Park

Scrutineering done at the “Super Pit” garage in downtown Obihiro.

Scrutineering in session

So what ‘s going on tomorrow? Tomorrow is Recce day and Shakedown, followed by the Rally Show and Ceremonial Start marking the beginning of Day 1 of the rally on Saturday, 22 May 2010. Stay tuned as tomorrow will be an exciting day with lots of activities.

Coming Soon:Rally Hokkaido

Rally Hokkaido is coming up soon and we’re leaving early next week.

So what has the team been up to lately? They’re all back with their families and preparing for the next round of rallying at the same time.

Meanwhile, let’s take a look at the scene for Rally Hokkaido.

The weather
We understand it’s now early spring and with little chances of rain. Late May is the season in which 8 Tokachi has 15 hours of daylight. Temperatures may drop to 8 degrees c at night and up to 18 degrees in the day.

Countryside
The Tokachi countryside is similar to some of the northern States of the US, and some people have compared the Special stages with those in Wales. It is relatively flat and agricultural. A mountain range running north / south divides the island and another mountain range runs from the middle range to the west and these two ranges protect Tokachi from the weather.

We’re informed that the rally roads are in the flat Tokachi basin and some head into the foothills of the mountain ranges, but the route is not mountainous.

Spectator scene
The local people are very enthusiastic about motor sport. International rally events have taken place since 2001. From 2004 to 2007, WRC was also held here. So rallying is well understood and supported by the locals, which is great news.

2009 winners
In 2009 Cody Croker and co driver Ben Atkinson won the rally in their Subaru Impreza. Ben is also Chris Atkinson’s brother…

More on Hokkaido in the next few days….stay tuned!