Thumbs up for Japan after candidate event
Japan’s future in the World Rally Championship looks secure following the successful running of the Shinshiro Rally candidate round last weekend.
The two-day event included 15 all-asphalt stages, three of which were superspecials through Shinshiro Park. FIA safety delegate Michele Mouton attended along with manufacturer representatives and WRC Promoter’s Oliver Ciesla. Rally Japan had been widely expected to return to the WRC calendar next season, but that has now been put back to a likely 2020 date.
Ciesla said: “From a promotional point of view, this rally met our expectations. Obviously, we can’t speak for the FIA, but the sporting challenge from this rally was very good.”
Ciesla said the appetite for the World Rally Championship remains as strong as ever, despite the fact the series hasn’t visited since a final visit to Hokkaido for the Sapporobased 2010 event.
“The fanbase is very, very strong,” said Ciesla, after more than 50,000 turned out for the Shinshiro Rally. “This will be a rally for the fans. The organisers will view next year as a warm-up year [for a proposed calendar return in 2020]. It’s already a great achievement to have brought this rally back and now we have to wait one more year to come back to Japan.”
Neither Saturday nor Sunday ran to full WRC length, but the stages used were some of those which would be intended for the nation’s first WRC round held on the main island of Honshu. The route for the WRC counter would run close to Mount Fuji between Tokyo, Yokohama and Nagoya.
The campaign gathers pace