Rally Japan (ラリージャパン) is a rally competition held in Hokkaidō, Japan. The event has been part of the FIA World Rally Championship since its introduction during the 2004 season. From 2004 to 2007, the event was held on the twisty and narrow gravel roads of the Tokachi region near Obihiro. For the 2008 season, the event was moved to the region close to Sapporo, Hokkaidō's main city. Rally Japan was not held in 2009, but returned in 2010.
Rally Hokkaido was first organised as part of the 2002 Asia-Pacific Rally Championship on the northern island of Hokkaidō. After two successful rallies the event was renamed Rally Japan and promoted to the 2004 World Rally Championship schedule. The rally was won by the 2003 world champion Petter Solberg of the Subaru World Rally Team. For 2005 the World and Asia-Pacific Rally events were split into two separate event with the APRC round returning to the Rally Hokkaido name.
The 2005 Rally Japan was held on September 30 through October 2. Headquarters and the service park were located in and near Obihiro, Hokkaidō. The rally was won by Marcus Grönholm in a Peugeot 307 WRC 1:22.1 ahead of Sébastien Loeb in a Citroën Xsara WRC. This was the last of the three world rally wins for the 307 WRC, and also the last win for the Peugeot factory team. The 2006 event was won by Loeb 5.6 seconds ahead of Grönholm.
Rally Japan was the fourteenth rally on the World Rally Championship schedule for the 2007 season. It featured 27 special stages, and was won by Mikko Hirvonen of BP Ford World Rally Team. This win was third in Hirvonen's career as a top level rally driver. The 2007 edition of the event was also remarkable for the retirements of both 2007 title contenders on the same rally; Marcus Grönholm retired on the first day of the rally after heavily damaging the roll cage of his Ford Focus RS WRC 07 on stage four. Sébastien Loeb retired on the next leg of the rally after his co-driver Daniel Elena called out the wrong pace note instruction for the first time in ten years.
In December 2007, Rally Japan organisers announced that for the 2008 WRC season the event will move from Obihiro to Sapporo, the biggest city in Hokkaidō. The 2008 Rally Japan featured 29 stages, including five super specials at the Sapporo Dome. The event saw Hirvonen take his second win in Japan in a row, ahead of his team-mate Jari-Matti Latvala and Citroën Total's Sébastien Loeb, who secured a record fifth title with his third-place finish. The rally also featured a bad crash by François Duval, which left his co-driver Patrick Pivato in a critical condition.
|2004|| Petter Solberg
|Subaru Impreza WRC 2004||Report|
|2005|| Marcus Grönholm
|Peugeot 307 WRC||Report|
|2006|| Sébastien Loeb
|Citroën Xsara WRC||Report|
|2007|| Mikko Hirvonen
|Ford Focus RS WRC 07||Report|
|2008|| Mikko Hirvonen
|Ford Focus RS WRC 08||Report|
|2010|| Sébastien Ogier
|Citroën C4 WRC||Report|
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