FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship round four and opening round of Asia Cup “Rally Hokkaido”
Yanagisawa finished within podium at first rally with EvoX!
2009 FIA Asia-Pacific Rally Championship round four and opening round of Asia Cup “Rally Hokkaido”(also round five of Japanese Rally Championship) was held from 10-12 July around Obihiro City, Hokkaido. Cusco Racing’s driver Hiroshi Yanagisawa and Yuya Sumiyama who registered Asia Cup had first international event this season. Yanagisawa again paired with Yoshimasa Nakahara as co-driver, while Sumiyama has new co-driver Naoki Kase.
The team which switched their machine to Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution X is determined this season as a turning point. They focused to register on Asia Cup which has four rounds within Asia where Carrosser is seeking as important market area. Team previously competed round of national championship, MSCC Tokyo Rally on June which gave team perfect preparation for this Hokkaido event.
Team had pre-event test on Tuesday before rally start. That day was extremely hot as air temperature rose to over 30 degree even in Northern area of Japan. This condition arrowed team to test only hard compound with Yokohama 053 tyre. Additionally Yanagisawa who experienced withdraw at Tokyo rally worried luck of setting, however he got plenty of mileage on this test and had well setting on suspension, differential and getting used to new machine.
The event was kicked off with ceremonial start at event Service Park in Kita-Aikoku on Friday night 10 July followed first run of Super SS which set nearby Service Park. Proper rally started from following Saturday. Day 1 was consisted with short stage in Dirt Circuit, foresty long stage based Rikubetsu, around 100km north east from Obihiro. The route gave competitors tough task as the longest stage of the event, KUNNEYWA(28.75km) was scheduled to use three times. The day was concluded with two time run of Super SS after back to Obihiro. The total competitive distance of the day is 169.74km which is similar value of WRC event. Once the rally started, three times APRC champion Cody Crocker and 99 APRC champion Katsu Taguchi showed close battle with sharing fastest time. Among them Yanagisawa attacked as hard as he can while to compare his time with opponents or trying to grasp limit point of his machine. It’s clear that his time was improved compare to previous Tokyo Rally which gave team well start with good feeling.
At overall standings, two times P-WRC champion Toshi Arai retired at SS3 due to suspension trouble. Yanagisawa moved to 3rd position when Gaurav Gill rolled out on SS6. Meanwhile Sumiyama who had been annoying to enable to get pace by unmatched suspension had bad luck on third run of the longest stage where became rough after used twice. When he tried to make shift change, coincidencely his machine was approaching a hole on the road. By this bad timing, he had trouble on drive train and withdrew from the day. On this stage, Taguchi also lost around 1 minute after kept driving 7km with flat tyre. While Yanagisawa finished the day with kept 3rd position.
Day2 saw most of open stage with stage in farm at Ashoro or spectators stage around Otofuke, north outskirt of Obihiro. Final stage of the event was fourth run of Super SS in Obihiro. The total competitive distance was only 60km however Yanagisawa who started the day from 3rd position was 2 minutes adrift from the leader. His gap to 2nd is also 50 seconds and advantage to 4th was over 1 minute. Therefore his target for the day was clearly keeping his position while having setting test for next round. Under sunny sky with dry condition, Yanagisawa had been comparing his time with Gaurav Gill who also drove Mitsubishi Lancer EvoX and he was trying several setting. He tried to make more improvement on his machine with seeing rest of round in Indonesia and China and also kept position. He successfully finished in last spot of podium at first international event with new machine. Meanwhile Sumiyama who restarted the day under Super rally regulation had better day with clearing each stage smoothly. His result on Day2 individually was 7th and finished the event with many of expectation at rest of two rounds.
Next outing of CUSCO RACING is “Rally Indonesia” which will be taken place from 3-4 October as team does not nominate next round of Asia Cup, “Malaysia Rally”.
“It was actual first rally of the season for me. I finished in 3rd, however there was much gap from the tops, so we still have a lot of things to do. Yet, it’s true that we gained 3rd prize with unfamiliar new machine. I need to analyse my time later, still the gap from tops should be around 1 second per km. So our task at a moment is having another look many aspects and making improvement from them. When small improvements are all come together, it should be big step. I try to make this in fastest way at remaining event in Indonesia and China. I can see my opponent’s back, so this result is very promising.”
“I lost many time on first half of day 1 because struggling suspension setting, but I was able to improve my pace later on. New machine which has bigger chassis improved stability at high speed but worse at narrow decent road. But every machine has each character, and I don’t feel any uncomfortable. At remaining two rounds, I would like to make more improvement on machine while doing what we could not do in Hokkaido, and then comparing with opponents.”