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GP Week : Issue 7
DETAILS of the new location for Rally Japan were announced on April 14 in Sapporo, the capital city of Hokkaido. The headquarters will be at the futuristic Sapporo Dome in the south of the town, in which a super special stage will be run. The move from Obihiro, in the centre of Hokkaido island, has been occasioned by the wish to make the rally more attractive to spectators. The average total attendance over the four years the rally was held in Obihiro was 240,000, whereas 600,000 is the target for the new location of the rally. The stages are to be held within a 60-70km radius of the dome, in the regions of Ishikari, Iburu and Sorachi. The 2008 Rally Japan, penultimate round of the world championship, was recently postponed by a week, and will now be held October 31 to November 2. Rally Japan’s new home IT has been 50 years since Holland has claimed a top flight rally driver – Maurice Gatsonides, winner of the 1953 Monte Carlo Rally with a Ford Zephyr. Now, 10 years after the death of Gatsonides, the Dutch federation are determined to put an end to their famine of international rallying talent. For the past three years, the KNAF Dutch federation has promoted a find-a-driver programme. They branched out in 2007 into non-championship entries for their drivers in world events with Mitsubishi Lancer Evo cars, displaying the traditional orange racing colours of The Netherlands. For 2008 they are supporting two drivers in the FIA’s Junior WRC; 21-year-old Hans Weijs Junior with a Citroen C2 R2 Max, and 19-year-old Kevin Abbring in a Renault Clio R3. A third car also features in their plans – a national one-make championship Mitsubishi Colt to be driven on local events by Timo van der Marel. Under the name of KNAF Talent First, the team is run by the federation and backed by the Dutch National Olympic Committee and the National Sports Federation. Dutch Federation back junior rallying KNAF set for debut in Jordan this week WRC news >> 11