Finn Juho Hanninen has driven his New Zealand-run Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 9 into the Production World Rally Championship (PWRC) lead after winning the Group N category in last weekend’s Rally Japan
It was Hanninen’s third PWRC round win in the Lancer run by Neil Allport’s Auckland-based Ralliart New Zealand team.
Hanninen won 10 of the three-day Japanese event’s 25 stages, after making a conservative start.
"Juho decided to make a slow start, when everyone else did the opposite,” said Allport. “The rough weather had such an effect, including affecting the condition of the road, that it was just a case of settling down and getting on with it – steady as she goes.”
The calculated approach paid off and Hanninen now leads the series by six points with one round to run, the Rally of Britain.
Hanninen rated the win “remarkable.” He said he was concentrating on battling Subaru ace and former Production Car World Champion, Toshi Arai, for second place.
“Only after the finish of the (final) stage did I realise that I had won. It was a very tough rally, and I (would have been) happy to finish second.
“I had decided before the rally that I would take it easy on Friday as day one’s stages were quite tricky, and then attack on days two and three and I really enjoyed a great battle with Toshi.”
Ralliart NZ ran a second Lancer for Norwegian Eyvind Brynildsen (20) who dominated early in the event but dropped back after a series of problems and finished fourth.