Bringing WRC to Japan has been a desperate desire for Japanese Rally fans and concerned parties, which actually came to fruition in 2004. It was a remarkable accomplishment as it overcame the widely believed theory of “using public roads as WRC venue is impossible in Japan.”
Rally Japan was held in Tokachi-Obihiro, Hokkaido, until 2007. Then the venue was changed to the Central Hokkaido Area in 2008. Then in 2010, Central Hokkaido Area and Sapporo hosted the event. (The event was not held in Japan in 2009 because of the rotation.) The ceremonial start held at the center of Obihiro City gathered a large number of the audience every year. At the event held in Sapporo, the service park was placed in Sapporo Dome. Super SS, which is to start two cars at the same time, also took place and attracted much attention.
In the first year, 2004, Peter Sorberg of Subaru had won. 2005 winner was Marcus Gronholm of Peugeot, and 2006 winner was Sebastien Loeb of Citroen. Mikko Hirvonen of Ford won 2007 and 2008 consecutively. Then in 2010, Sebastien Ogier of Citroen achieved his second victory of WRC.
WRC has not been held in Japan since 2011 due to an economic recession. Withdrawal of Japanese manufacturer from WRC was also a reason. However, the rally has surely taken root in Japan with APRC (Asia-Pacific Rally Championship) being continuously held in Tokachi-Obihiro area in Hokkaido. Passion for the rally has always been there.
Finally, the new action has occurred. Return of Toyota to WRC leads to the idea of bringing WRC back to Japan, while domestic rally reform makes progress and understanding toward rally spreads. Aichi Prefecture and Gifu Prefecture will be the center of this new stage. Although it was unable to be on the 2019 calendar, the test event will be held in the fall of 2019, to be fully ready to hold WRC event in 2020.