Co-driver: Miikka Anttila

I was very confident when I went to Japan because I had driven many good rallies. Japan was my 50th race and I was hoping to be on the podium at the end of the rally. The first stage on Friday morning was driven in the fog. It was a wide and fast eight kilometers long stage. The foggy stage was not at all easy but my driving went well and I was able to drive the fastest time. Stages 2, 3 and 4 were narrower and more slippery than stage 1 but luckily there was no more fog. I enjoyed driving and had a good feeling and by the time of the first service we were leading the rally. Marcus Gronholm had to retire in the service because the roll cage of his car had twisted when he drove off the road. It was bad for the championship battle and I felt sorry for him. Stage 5 was the same as stage 1 and again I drove the fastest time and my lead got bigger. Mikko Hirvonen drove like a maniac on stages 6, 7 and 8 and was able to pass me. At the end of the day we drove a super special twice but I didn’t do well and Sebastien Loeb managed to pass me. Still I was happy with my day because the differences weren’t big. On Saturday the stages were very slippery and my aim was to try and keep the same pace as Hirvonen and Loeb. Stage 11 went well but stage 12 was a long one, 35 kilometers, which meant more differences in times. The stage started well and we were only two seconds behind Sebastien but then the hydraulics broke down, I had to change to the manual gear change and the car diffs didn’t work properly. It was difficult to drive and I was 13, 9 seconds slower than the fastest driver. We weren’t able to fix the car before the next stage so we had to start that with all our problems. On stage 13 five kilometers from the start I saw Loeb’s car off the road which probably disturbed my concentration a bit and I ditched the car on a slow right corner and hit a tree. No hope of continuing the race because the cooling system was damaged. That was so frustrating because my chances to get to the podium had been so good. The car was fixed, though, and due to the super rally rule I was able to drive on Sunday just to get experience and to get my confidence back. My pace is good but in the upcoming rallies I should get to the finish. That’s the way one can get to the podium…


Car: Ford Focus WRC -06
Service Team: Stobart