Kiwi international rally-driver Mike Young has plenty to look forward to this weekend as he debuts Cusco’s brand new Toyota CH-R at Japan’s Rally Hokkaido, a qualification round for the 2019 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship powered by Würth.
Cusco have built two CH-R’s rally-cars in collaboration with TRD (Toyota Racing Developments) who supply the engine and attend each event with their top technicians. One of the CH-R’s was tested by Young and the team for 3 days in late July, while the car to run in Hokkaido will be set-up and tested in the days prior to the rally.
“Its a pretty exciting project to be involved in. Many of the things the team learnt from the Yaris have been incorporated or improved in this car. It has a longer wheel-base so during testing it immediately felt more stable, plus being a bigger car there’s more space in the engine bay and passenger compartment”, said Young at the completion of the test.
Young not only has a new car this weekend, he will have a new co-driver with Australian Glenn Macneall flying straight from WRC Rally Turkey to takeover from Young’s usual co-driver Malcolm Read who’s at the Adelaide ARC round this weekend. “It’s a shame when we have these date conflicts in our region, however we’ve known there would be a clash from the start of the year so I’ve had plenty of time to convince Glenn he should jump in with me for this event”.
From the open plains and sweeping roads near host city Obihiro to the lush green forestry stages that thread their way through the mountain regions to the north, Rally Hokkaido delivers plenty of variety.
Beginning with Friday’s rally show and ceremonial start the cars then tackle the 1.47km Super Special Stage adjacent to the service park. Saturday heads north to the inland village location of Rikubetsu where teams will contest a further four stages before service in the township. Then repeating two of the morning’s stages the journey returns to Obihiro and a re-run of the Super Special Stage.
Sunday’s remaining eight stages are held just to the north of Obihiro with five in the morning and the final three taking up the early afternoon. The rally concludes with a ceremonial finish at the service park location of Kita Aikoku. The weather is typical early autumn with relatively more rainfall. Daily temperatures range between 16-23 degrees Celsius, dropping to single digits overnight. The weekend's forecast is for cloudy periods and possible rain for Sunday.
Following the Hokkaido event the Cusco CH-R will be shipped to China for the APRC finale based in the city of Longyou 25-27th October.