Japan and Australia are leading the race to become the first two countries to qualify for next year’s World Cup – but football isn’t the only sport the two nations’ athletes are neck and neck in. Hot on the heels of the Australian Redback Racing team, it’s now the turn of the K’s World Rally Team from Japan to get behind the wheel of the EuroRallye Honda Civic Type R.
Driver Motoharu Kaseya and co-driver Kohei Izuno will contest the RSAC Scottish Rally on Saturday 29 June, the third round of the British Rally Championship. The pair are both accomplished drivers in their own right, having taken separate class wins on last year’s World Championship rally in New Zealand. Now they have their sights set on success in Europe, and are coming all the way from Japan to take part in the Dumfries-based rally.
Thankfully, they won’t have to take their own car with them. Although Motoharu and Kohei are doing the rally in a Japanese-specification Honda, the car has a somewhat shorter journey to make than its crew. It only has to make a short hop down the M74 from its garage in Perth, and will be ready and waiting for the crew when they touch down on Scottish soil. On the Jim Clark Memorial Rally at the start of this month, the very same Civic scored a class win in the hands of Australian Targa crew Adam Spence and Erin Kelly – and EuroRallye boss Iain Shirlaw will be hoping for a similar result this time out.
“I very much enjoy challenging myself on international rallies, and after doing well in New Zealand last year I was keen to try something different”, explains Kaseya, who hails just a stone’s throw from Kamakura – home of the first Japanese samurai. “Our team principal at K’s has done a lot of good business with EuroRallye, so he suggested we go to Britain and do a rally with them”.
The Scottish sojurn means K’s World Rally Team – run out of the mountains of Nagano by Japanese championship-winning co-driver Kazuya Suzuki – will soon have competed on four different continents, adding Europe to Asia, Africa and Australasia. “I’ve never been to Europe to rally before, and have only seen the stages on the internet”, Motoharu continues. “I think the Scottish forest roads are quite similar to those in Japan, and I am looking forward to experiencing Scotland as well as having an enjoyable rally”.
The RSAC Scottish Rally will be held in the forests of Dumfries and Galloway, taking in 73 stage miles over the course of one day. Previous winners of this historic event include World Champions Colin McRae, Ari Vatanen and Hannu Mikkola. Motoharu Kaseya and Kohei Izuno will also be the first Japanese competitors to enter the Scottish Rally for over a decade, the last such entry being back in 2002.