Rally Japan clerk of the course reprimanded

Haruo Takakuwa was adjudged to have started SS9 without ensuring it was safe to do so


The Rally Japan clerk of the course, Haruo Takakuwa, has been reprimanded for the SS9 incident in which Thierry Neuville caught a zero car.

Saturday’s first stage was initially delayed by five minutes before first on the road, Hyundai driver Neuville, came across a zero car parked at the side of the road.

That caused the stage to be red flagged and interrupted running for Neuville, Takamoto Katsuta, Ott Tänak and Esapekka Lappi.

The FIA opened an initial investigation which resulted in a stewards hearing at 4pm on Saturday with the clerk of the course.

Mr Takakuwa was deemed to have breached Article 12.2.1.h of the FIA’s 2023 International Sporting Code which refers to failure in taking reasonable measures in an unsafe situation.

The stewards’ decision read: “A serious and unsafe situation occurred because the clerk of the course started the stage without ensuring it was safe to do so.

“This was primarily because of the failure of the zero car A to follow the directions given at three pre-event safety briefings to not stop on the stage after leaving the start.

“Then the clerk of the course failed to properly check where zero car A was before starting the stage.”

As well as the reprimand, the incident will be referred to the FIA WRC Commission for further action, if deemed appropriate.