Typhoon Chaba, which battered the Nipponese islands for the past two days, has weakened to a tropical depression, but the WRC brigade is nevertheless bracing itself for wet conditions on the inaugural Rally of Japan.

Typhoon Chaba, which battered the Nipponese islands for the past two days, has weakened to a tropical depression, but the WRC brigade is nevertheless bracing itself for wet conditions on the inaugural Rally of Japan.


As Japan is on the rim of the Pacific Ocean, it is often subjected to some extreme conditions – and that is particularly true for the northern island of Hokkaido on which the rally will be based. Chaba, which has already claimed the lives of seven people and caused widespread transport chaos, has moved north up the coast of Japan and was expected to reach Hokkaido today.


The forecast for the next two days is for rain and showers, all of which is likely to make the recce and preparations for the World Rally Championship’s newest event rather difficult.


Saturday is currently forecast to be sunny, but the person most likely to be smiling is championship leader Sebastien Loeb. The Citroën star is scheduled to be first on the road on Friday, but the gravel stages are likely to still be damp and heavy, which will mean less time loss due to clearing the loose gravel for his rivals. Michelin-shod teams, including Citroën, have nominated the Z – the “standard” loose-surface tyre – and the ZE16 for muddy conditions.


Loeb is the only championship contender with experience of the terrain, as he practised the route last year: “The majority of the stages are narrow and fast and remind me of the British Rally. The scenery is reminiscent of Wales, and even of the Vosges Mountains in France.


“But onlike Rally GB, the stages aren't so hard-wearing since the going is much softer. Rain isn't rare; I can personally vouch for that! And I'm not talking about the occasional shower, but persistent, heavy rain. Last year, there were actual streams of running water in the ruts at times,” he added.

Original article from Car