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After three rounds in the southern hemisphere the 2007 FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship now heads north to four Asian events, starting with Japan’s round on the island of Hokkaido.  

The series is currently led by last year’s champion, Cody Crocker, driving a Motor Image Singapore-prepared Subaru Impreza. The Australian driver now has an unbeaten record of eight starts and eight wins - and with 32 points, an 8 point lead in the championship.
 
Behind the Subaru driver is the MRF Mitsubishi pair of Japan’s Katsu Taguchi and Jussi Valimaki from Finland – both drivers equal second on 24 points.  Crocker is well aware that in Japan he will have a challenge to keep Taguchi and the Mitsubishi team at bay. 

“It’s Katsu’s home territory, he's got a quick car now and we’ve got be to right on top of things. We had a great run last year, but the MRF team have upped the pace a bit this year. We’ve got a few more things we can develop with this car, so hopefully it will be even quicker for us,” Crocker said.
 
With a good second place finish in Canberra, Taguchi is feeling very confident about his home event.

“We ran some new MRF tyres in Canberra and they were really good, but we only had a limited number in Hokkaido and Malaysia we will have more, so it should be a good fight,” Taguchi said.
 
Jussi Valimaki, the 2005 APRC champ, is equally confident that in future events the MRF Mitsubishi team will  be able to challenge Crocker’s dominance.

“Japan has nice roads and some stages like in Finland, so I’m looking forward to it, but we have to remember that Katsu-san is very, very fast in Japan,” Valimaki said.
 
Behind the leading three competitors there is big battle for fourth spot with Team India’s Naren Kumar holding the position on 14 points.
 
Only one point behind Kumar is Crocker’s Motor Image team-mate, Rifat Sungkar, from Indonesia, and Japan’s Hiroshi Yanagisawa in the Cusco Subaru. Yanagisawa finished second in last year’s championship, but with a DNF in New Caledonia he will be hoping for a top result on his home event in Hokkaido.
 
The Rally of Hokkaido is based in the city of Obihiro and runs from July 6-8.
 
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