Rally Hokkaido Preview

Photo courtesy of www.cusco.co.jpThere’s just a week to go before the start of Rally Hokkaido. Along with the APRC regulars, there’ll be large field of experienced Japanese campaigners. And added to the mix, with be Dean Herridge, the 2008 Pacific Cup champion re-signed by Cusco after completing his initial contract of three APRC events. But with the ‘cup’ locked away, will Dean be free to ‘let the handbrake off’ and fight for outright honours?

“You’d have to say ‘Yes’, but I don’t know that we have the handbrake on that hard! I’m sure that’s what the team expects. I’ve locked away the Pacific Cup, third in the championship and six points off the lead. This will really dictate whether it’s worth extending the campaign yet again. And even have an outside chance of winning the championship, which wasn’t the goal at the start of the year, so anything from here on is a bonus.”

“But from a Dean Herridge and a Cusco combination point-of-view, this round could be pivotal to what we do in the future, for the rest of this year and even into 2009.”

With four Japanese regulars in the APRC field, the addition of reigning P-WRC champ Toshi Arai, and a host locals all looking to upstage the international, Herridge and the other visiting crews may not such an easy time of it.

Photo courtesy of www.cusco.co.jp“You’ve got a lot of guys with a lot of experience. So even if you’re having a good crack at it, you’re going to be up against some really stiff competition. I’ll be doing a good job to keep up with (my team-mates) Hiroshi and Sumiyama, with the car speed they showed there last year. I’m hoping that I can benefit from some info about car setup!”

“But what a great event; the crowds are really enthusiastic. It should be a great atmosphere and a really good event in an interesting time in the championship.”

And while Rally Hokkaido is an unexpected bonus for the West Australian, is there a chance we’ll see him in more events this year?

“We’re still in the mix for the championship. Anything can happen on the events. Cusco have given us the chance of another rally. Let’s see how it goes for the weekend. If it goes our way, and it doesn’t go the way of particularly Cody and Katsu, then let’s look at Malaysia.”

“Our team is dropping Indonesia, which is six weeks after Japan and then Malaysia is another two months after that. So our team has a three month layoff to prepare cars. So it’s a perfect situation to set up for the rest of the year. So there’s no need to rush decisions.

So if those two guys had a bit of a horror weekend, then maybe Malaysia would come up. But everything staying equal, this could be a final event with them. But a great opportunity, and we won’t die wondering sitting at home watching the results. We’ll be there in the mix.”

To hear the full interview with Dean, just click the ‘Play’ button.