Toni and P-G's Rally Japan Tour

As you may know, Rally Japan was one of the special events for the Suzuki World Rally Team, as it was the first time that the SX4 WRC ran on its home territory. Toni, P-G and their co-drivers arrived in Japan on Thursday 23rd of October, just one week before the rally start.

     

They started their trip from Hamamatsu, where the Suzuki headquarters is located, on the morning of Friday 24th. Then they visited Suzuki Sport where the SX4 WRC has been developed around noon. The drivers toured the factory for about two hours after lunch and saw the facilities, such as the engine dynamometer and the wind tunnel in practical use. Team Director Inagaki acted as a guide and answered questions from the drivers during the tour. After that the drivers departed for the car assembly plant at Makinohara, halfway between Hamamatsu and Fuji in Shizuoka Prefecture. All the drivers renewed their awareness that they are part of Suzuki's family. At the same time, staffs who are usually working at offices far away from the rally sites realized a sense of fellowship.

In the evening, they arrived in Atami, a traditional "Onsen" resort facing Pacific Ocean in western Shizuoka. Onsen is the term for hot springs in the Japanese language. It normally means the bathing facilities and inns around the hot springs. As soon as they checked in to a traditional Japanese inn that had hot-spring bath, they changed into Yukata, one of Japanese ethnic costumes commonly worn at summer festivals in Japan and also during the stay in Japanese-style hotels. They were a great sight in their Yukata. Then they had Japanese-style dinner using chopsticks skillfully, whilst seated in the Tatami-floored room. After that they went to karaoke. Tomi's eyes lit up when he grabbed a microphone. He showed off his vocal skills honed throughout the live performances. They seemed to know no fatigue after their whirlwind tour!
     

The drivers had to wake up early in the morning on Saturday 25th to take the bullet train for Tokyo. They arrived in Tokyo in the morning and explored the city. First they visited the gate to the Imperial Palace. Its courtyard around the Palace, close to Tokyo Station is a wonderful place for a stroll. Then, they took JR train and subway for Asakusa. The area located on the North-East fringe of Central Tokyo on the banks of the Sumida River & has a good old atmosphere of a downtown of Tokyo. With so many temples and shrines in the area, there are frequent festivals, as each temple or shrine hosts at least one per year. Because of its colourful scenery and relaxed atmosphere, the town is one of the most popular tourist attractions in Tokyo. The drivers visited the Sensoji temple. The entrance to the temple is called "Kaminarimon" or "Thunder Gate". Beyond the gate is Nakamise, followed by the" Hozomon" or "Treasure House Gate" and then the temple itself. Nakamise is lined with small shops selling souvenirs ranging from fans, paper items, kimono and other robes, traditional sweets, toys and so on. These shops remind us of the customary business to the pilgrims. Following that they moved to Akihabara, the biggest electronics quarter in Japan.

After enjoying a short tour in Tokyo, they left for Sapporo on a plane. In Sapporo, they went out for dinner to a Japanese style pub late at night. Amazing vitality!
     

On Sunday 26th, they started work wearing their yellow shirts. They attended an autograph session held at a local Suzuki dealer in Sapporo and then a hotel in Tomakomai, where the stages were set on the day2 and the day3. It was really nice to meet a lot of local fans, who came to see the drivers in both cosy events.

At last the rally week started from Monday 27th. Toni went to take a Japanese driving test in Sapporo to obtain a Japanese driver's licence, as his Monaco licence was not admitted as an international driving permit in Japan. From a legal standpoint, Toni had to display a special sticker indicating that he is an 'inexperienced driver' on his SX4 WRC during the rally as a brand-new licensed driver in Japan, though it sounded more like a joke!


 

 

Rd.15 GB
MORE>>


Rd.15 GB
Day3
MORE>>
 
 
 
  [Legendary land - Wales]
...MORE>
  [Team story in Rally Japan]
...MORE>
  [Toni and P-G's Rally Japan Tour]
...MORE>



#10 Mechanic's portrait: Stefan Erixon
...MORE>

#09 Mechanic's portrait: Esa Häkkinen
...MORE>