Japan : OMV Peugeot Norway - Preview
The OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team is primed for the next assignment. Following two rallies in Europe the WRC goes overseas once again for Rally Japan.
With Manfred Stohl and Ilka Minor, the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team
will only be represented by one car in the land of the rising sun. Which means that the hunt is only on for driver points at the eleventh round to the FIA World Rally Championship. At the remaining five rallies the OMV Peugeot Norway World Rally Team will once again be competing with two cars.
Japan – the undiscovered country
On Tuesday Manfred Stohl will be facing one of his last big adventures in the Rally World Championship. Following 104 starts in the royal class of this sport the 34-year-old OMV driver will compete in an event for the first time – the Rally Japan. Stohl: “I've been there several times and especially enjoy the food in Japan but I've never competed in a rally. It is bound to be a great experience. I'm sure that we won't have any problems since I am usually good at adapting to new rallies. And the Rally Japan should also suit the Peugeot 307 WRC. After all, Marcus Grönholm won last year with this car.”
Surprises on the menu
In any case, Manfred Stohl is convinced that there will be a lot of surprises in Japan. “There surely will be several drivers at the top one wouldn't have counted on prior to the event,” says the OMV driver.
He is particularly thinking of local hero Toshi Arai, who superiorly won the Production Car-class during the last two years.
The OMV Peugeot Norway WRT driver further reckons that there will be a lot of retirements. Stohl: “It will be a very challenging rally since the gravel is rather soft and the streets are very narrow. There is almost no chance to make up for mistakes if you get off the ideal line. And 27 special stages overall mean that you also lose a lot of time with the SupeRally regulation.”
The small WRC field might also be a cause for surprises since only eleven WRCs will be competing. Besides OMV driver Stohl, the Stobart Ford Team (Matthew Wilson, Luis Perez Companc, Gareth MacHale) and Daniel Sordo also have no experience in Japan. Which heightens Stohl's chances: “We should be able to compete for points. If everything goes perfect we could even reach the podium. That would be very important concerning the WRC driver ranking.” Currently the OMV driver lies in fifth place with 24 points to his account.
346 special stage kilometres on 27 special stages
The Rally Japan will commence on Friday (September 1) in Obihiro/Hokkaido at 06.30 (local time). 27 special stages with an overall distance of 345,72 kilometres are scheduled from Friday to Sunday (September 1 - 3). The overall distance is exactly 1.586,52 kilometres. The finish line will be crossed on Sunday (September 3) at 15.00 (local time) in Obihiro.
Press release OMV Peugeot Norway