Antony Warmbold highly motivated after clocking strong shakedown time
For Ford driver Antony Warmbold, the Rally Japan (30 September to 2 October) started with a success. In the shakedown, the official test preceding the start to the 13th round of the World Rally Championship, the German residing in Monaco and his co-driver Michael Orr were the quickest privateer team in the field. In addition, the duo in the Ford Focus RS WRC clocked the 13th-best time in the overall classification.
"We are very happy with our time in the test," said Warmbold, obviously pleased. "We merely completed two runs on the track. Now we're well set for the rally's 26 special stages. We adapted our set-up from the Rally Great Britain to the gravel tracks in Japan, but chose a higher suspension for the somewhat tougher stages. This worked very well here."
Warmbold continued: "My goal for the Rally Japan is a place among the top eight." Last year, the German clinched eighth place as well, thus scoring a point in the drivers' world championship. Now, Warmbold wants to benefit from his experience on the legs around the Northern Japanese town of Obihiro. The German is the only driver in the Ford team to have contested the Rally Japan as early as last year.
"I know many of the stages from 2004, when this rally was included in the world championship for the first time, and that makes work easier for me," says the 27-year-old professional rally driver. "The roads of the second leg on Saturday, though, are new to me as well."
In Japan, weather conditions prior to the start to the rally are dry and sunny. "However, the weather forecast has predicted rain for the second and third leg," reports Warmbold. "Personally, I would prefer dry conditions like last year's because rain can make the gravel roads very slippery."
The Ford driver's tactics: "For the first special stages, we're going to play it safe with respect to our choice of tyres. What's important is to establish a good starting base for Saturday. Starting as the fourth or fifth car would give us optimum prerequisites on the slippery stretches."
The Rally Japan will begin on Thursday evening with a show start in Obihiro. Starting at 07.33 a.m., Friday morning, a total of 26 special stages across 350 kilometres will be on the agenda. On Sunday afternoon, 3 p.m., local time, the teams are expected at the finish in Obihiro.