Rd.6 Rally Japan

Production Car World Rally Championship
26 to 28 October 2007


SUBARU Entrants Closing In

27 October 2007
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After a difficult day on leg one, the SUBARU-equipped entrants in the P-WRC are getting closer to the front. Japanese driver Takuma Kamada leads the charge in second position, with Leszek Kuzaj right behind in third.

The second leg of this year's Rally Japan dawned cool, the crews heading out of the Service Park to the first of the day's ten tests at shortly after 5:00am. The reason for the early rise? The stages on the first two legs of the rally are located some 100 kilometres away, and they're through the first one at 07:33 hrs.

Takuma Kamada didn't feel the suspension settings were quite right this morning, which meant he coldn't push as he would have liked-though this caution had probably kept him out of trouble, and as a result he wasn't making any major inroads on Gabriele Pozzo in front of him. The Japanese driver reported no problems in the afternoon, tough thought his tyres were a little too soft. Looking at the big picture, that's only a minor issue.

Toshi started out the morning in typical bright form, though had a rear puncture on SS12, the first of the day's long stages. He replied to this setback by setting fastest time on the following pair of stages, 20 and 22 kilometres respectively. After the Lunchtime Service, he again went quickest, this time on the Rikubetsu 4 test. However, the gremlins that have been swarming around the title aspirant struck once again with another puncture on SS16. He's up to twelfth after running in the final position for the early part of the day. His co-driver Tony Sircombe reported that as soon as they got the flat, Toshi shouted: "How did we get that?" They were slightly outraged they'd been dealt another blow with that one.

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Leszek Kuzaj reckones he spent the morning on the wrong tyres. It wasn't a problem, but he did get a couple of scares after going off the road for a long way before managing to slide his way back on. He stayed comfortably in third place at lunch, and was happy with that. The Pole had a much better afternoon and actually started to really get a feel for the car and enjoy it. He got the tyres right for the afternoon's tests and has really gained confidence, as his later times attest. Realistically, there's nothing he can do pace-wise about Takuma Kamada ahead of him, but he's got to keep Armindo Araujo behind him tomorrow to keep that podium position.

Patrik Flodin struggled on SS12 and SS13, reporting that he felt the car was down on power and the handling was a little strange. At the Lunchtime Service, the team found that the air filter had been filled with leaves! The car returned to form in the afternoon stages, the engine back to full power after the air filter blockage. "The tyres probably needed a little more cutting than they had because we were losing traction halfway through corners and losing the steering," said the Swede later. After returning to Service, they discovered one of the rear suspension links had been damaged-which may have also been causing the car's odd handling earlier in the day.

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Evegeniy Vertunov broke the rear suspension on SS11. He managed to make some repairs but then broke it again on SS13-meaning he spent the greater part of the morning's stages driving with a broken rear suspension, which explains the four-minute loss he incurred over his gap to the leaders at the start of the day. His afternoon stages went well, the young Russian running better than in the morning. They still faced some handling problems however, and at the Evening Service have decided to change the transmission as they felt the morning's woes may have knocked a diff out of line. With hopes of a straightforward, clear run tomorrow, the team are aiming to keep Mark Higgins, running sixth in the Mitsubishi, behind them.

Spyros Pavlides thoroughly enjoyed driving the morning's tests, treacherous though they were. In the afternoon, delays were caused by a broken gear linkage, which occurred just as they went out for the second loop of stages. He thus had to pick a gear-and then stay in it! They were a bit disappointed, but did manage to get back to Evening Service.

George Donaldson

STI Group N Project General Manager:
"The end of leg two sees us in a much better position than the end of leg one. We have Takuma Kamada poised to take any advantage and improve on his current 2nd position, and he's backed up ably by Leszek Kuzaj, 1 minute, 34 seconds behind.

"Evegeniy Vertunov has had a fairly awful day really, breaking the suspension on several occassions this morning, though admirably being able to repair it without any massive time loss. However, he has lost about four minutes to his position this morning, which is pretty tragic when you consider he had himself tucked in comfortably in a podium position at the start of the day.

"Further back, Patrik Flodin has managed to get through another leg of the rally, despite a bit of a power issue this morning. That sorted itself out this afternoon and he was able to post some respectable times, though he's not entirely happy with the cut on his tyres.

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"Well, this just isn't Toshi's rally. A puncture this morning with a stop-and-change, and then another puncture this afternoon, same thing. It's all happening to him on this rally, making sure he stays well out of the points. Looking at the times tonight, there's very little chance of him getting a point-but you never know in this sport, and it's important that Toshi hangs in there and does the very best he can.

"Spyros had a great morning today, really enjoying the tricky, twisty and slippery stages. Unfortunately this afternoon he had a gear selection problem and that's somewhat spoiled his day. He's still in there and he's going to start tomorrow filled with renewed vigor for the new stages that we're off to in the morning. We could even get snow!"

The final day of competition gets underway with a 07:06 start tomorrow, crews tackling a whole new set of six tests before their final visit to the Obihiro Superspecial to close out the event.

Pos Driver Car Name Time   Diff  
1 Gabriel POZZO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:41:16.0 0.0
2 Takuma KAMADA SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:42:58.5 +1:42.5
3 Leszek KUZAJ SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:44:32.8 +3:16.8
4 Armindo ARAUJO Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:45:17.8 +4:01.8
5 Evgeniy VERTUNOV SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:47:12.0 +5:56.0
6 Mark HIGGINS Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:48:07.9 +6:51.9
7 Claudiu Stefan DAVID Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:51:35.7 +10:19.7
8 Patrik FLODIN SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:54:53.4 +13:37.4
9 Amjad FARRAH Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 2:56:54.7 +15:38.7
10 Yoshio IKEMACHI SUBARU IMPREZA WRX STI 2:57:21.5 +16:05.5