Following the shakedown session before the Rally of Japan on Thursday, Peugeot WRC star Marcus Gronholm said that the pace would be blinding during the event’s narrow forest stages.

Following the shakedown session before the Rally of Japan on Thursday, Peugeot WRC star Marcus Gronholm said that the pace would be blinding during the event’s narrow forest stages.


The double world champion said he found the forest stages were like “a mix between Wales, New Zealand and some narrow stages of Finland”.


“The stages are very narrow and fast, but on the side of the road there is a lot of grass. If you are brave, you can start cutting corners, but if you are unlucky then you can find a surprise in the grass and then you’ll be going home,” Gronholm said.


“You need to be a little bit lucky if you decide to cut everywhere, but you can only try. For sure it will be tricky. Everyone is going to just have to try a standard set-up of the car and do their best job,” the Finn added.


“I think it will be a good rally,” reigning world champion Petter Solberg said. “I think everyone will respect it. It’s quite difficult. There are many unseen corners. I hope that everyone stays on the road, which is a good thing for spectators and everybody. I just hope for a clean fight.”


Ford’s Markko Martin, who is now second in the drivers’ standings, said he was looking forward in particular to Sunday’s third leg. “From a drivers’ point of view, leg one and leg two are a bit boring as they look similar to each other, but they are very fast and narrow so that doesn’t mean they are easy to drive,” said the Estonian. “They’re quite difficult to drive fast, and, if you make a mistake, there are steep ditches on both sides all the time. The third leg is the best one of this rally, and these are really challenging stages – not easy for sure.”


The weather could prove to be the critical element, though. The Hokkaido island on which the event is based can be subject to heavy storms, and is still suffering the aftermath of Typhoon Chaba from earlier in the week. On last year’s Rally Hokkaido – the FIA Asia-Pacific Championship event which forms the basis for Rally Japan – the atrociously wet conditions resulted in deep ruts in the gravel roads. It is currently warm and sunny however, with conditions set to stay that way for the weekend.

Original article from Car