Drivers Take to the Gravel in Japan

Drivers Take to the Gravel in JapanFrom Rally Japan Media [ 02/09/2004 ].
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The world’s best rally drivers took to the fast flowing gravel of Rally Japan for the first time today (2 September) when drove their world rally cars for a “shakedown”. The shakedown stage is a short section of road providing teams with the chance to test their cars at competition speed on a road similar to the actual stages. Peugeot’s Harri Rovanpera was fastest through the 5.4 kilometer shakedown stage.

His team mate, Marcus Gronholm, was the third fastest driver and while many of their competitors were not driving at ten-tenths, the shakedown times could hint at things to come from the Peugeot team.

Earlier this week, Peugeot Sport Team Director Corrado Provera said that the Peugeot drivers should drive the Rally Japan flat out and aim for victory.

"Given that our situation in both championships is now compromised, our intention is to finish the year with panache," said Provera.

Carlos Sainz was third fastest on the stage. The Spaniard has a reputation for strong finishes on new events, having won in Turkey 2003 and taken third in Mexico this year – both times when the events were run for the first time.

Sainz’s team mate and current World Rally Championship points leader Sebastien Loeb is the only leading driver to know a little of these stages, as he drove the reconnaissance of the 2003 version of this rally. There have been many changes to the route since then, and Citroen fans will have to wait to see if last year’s visit will pay off .

The action starts tomorrow, and sees the rally cars heading to the north east of Obihiro for 150.58 competitive kilometers of special stages before returning to the city for both a spectacular twin-track special stage and servicing.