Forum8 Rally Japan Preview: WRC1

November 15, 2023Joe Moore

The 2023 World Rally Championship continues this weekend with the thirteenth and final round, Forum8 Rally Japan. 

Championship Rundown

Kalle Rovanperä became a two-time World Rally Champion at the Central European Rally. Meaning the 2023 Drivers’ Championship is no longer on the table. However, there is still a battle for second in the championship. As Elfyn Evans currently sits in the championship, 44 points behind Rovanperä. Central European Rally winner Thierry Neuville is third in the championship, just 7 points behind Evans. Ott Tänak also has a chance at second overall, as he sits 22 points behind Neuville and 29 behind Evans. Sebastien Ogier rounds out the championship top five heading into Forum8 Rally Japan, 48 points behind Tänak. 

Expected Rain

Currently, it’s expected to rain throughout the event. With it already having rained on Wednesday before the shakedown stage. Last season Thierry Neuville took home the win with help from the rain. However, wet conditions all weekend may favor Kalle Rovanperä more. As the Finnish driver seems to prefer wet tarmac over dry tarmac, or at least that’s what he wanted at the Central European Rally. With the tight roads in Japan, a bit of rain may catch some drivers out early into the event. 

Can Neuville Go Back To Back?

As previously mentioned Thierry Neuville won the Central European Rally last month. Neuville will have a chance to claim back-to-back wins at Forum8 Rally Japan. The Belgian is also one of the favourites to take the event win. Why? Neuville is really good on tarmac. He’s not necessarily a tarmac specialist as he’s pretty good on gravel as well. However, Neuville seems to be able to find the next level on sealed surfaces. Hence why he often wins or finishes high at those events. Sure Neuville was helped out last weekend by Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans. As after Evans crashed into a barn, Rovanperä slowed down, way down. Practically handing Neuville the win. However, Neuville also had a strong chance of winning the event anyway.