The Takayama College of Car Technology is returning to the New Zealand World Rally Championship (WRC) event for the second time this year, with a former student and now teacher at the college, Tomoki Ohashi, entered as the team’s driver.
Repco Rally New Zealand, which runs from 28 to 31 August on roads around the wider Waikato and Franklin districts, forms an important part of the college’s practical curriculum according to associate professor Susumu Sakai, who heads the Takayama College Rally Team.
“We help equip the students with a good education in the real world by taking part in a WRC event like Repco Rally New Zealand,” says Sakai. “Our priorities are always safety and to finish the rally in our Subaru Impreza WRX STi. This year we will also practice the new style of WRC service with the limit of five mechanics.”
Twenty-strong, the team includes eight student mechanics (seven male, one female), six teachers including the driver Ohashi, the co-driver Kazuyoshi Funaki, an assistant for Sakai, three New Zealand helpers and Sakai himself.
Sakai says the team’s nominated driver, Tomoki Ohashi, graduated from the college in 2002 and is now a teacher there. “Ohashi has taken part in the WRC Rally Australia event and has been competing as a rally driver for six years, primarily in the All Japan Rally Championshp.”
The Takayama College team has contested Rally Australia nine times and the Japan WRC round three times, says Repco Rally New Zealand general manager Paul Mallard.
“While most people’s attention is on teams competing in the WRC, Production WRC and New Zealand Rally Championship, we welcome teams such as Takayama College. They add interest to our field and we’re delighted they have decided to come back to New Zealand a second time,” says Mallard.
Repco Rally New Zealand starts on Thursday 28 August with the WRC shakedown and ceremonial start in central Hamilton. The rally proper starts on Friday 29 August with competitors taking in stages around Pirongia and Waitomo. Day two sees competitors head to Port Waikato and the lower reaches of the Franklin district with day three around Raglan with a double run of the iconic Whaanga Coast stage.
Repco Rally New Zealand is the 11th of 15 rounds in the 2008 FIA World Rally Championship, the sixth of eight rounds in the 2008 FIA Production World Rally Championship and the fifth of six rounds in the 2008 Vantage Aluminium Joinery New Zealand Rally Championship.
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