ICYMI: Paul Nagle made his one-off WRC Live commentary debut last night

Friday nights were never like this – live WRC rallying from 10pm – no need of the Late, Late Show

ICYMI: Paul Nagle made his one-off WRC Live commentary debut last night –

Friday nights were never like this – live WRC rallying from 10pm – no need of the Late, Late Show

Photo courtesy of Becs Williams

You had to be up early this morning to catch Paul Nagle’s debut as a co-host with Becs Wiliams on WRC.com All Live.

The recently retired Killarney man is in Japan to help Craig Breen’s new co-driver, James Fulton.

He joined the legendary Welsh commentator Becs in the commentary box as the crews competed on stage six of Rally Japan at 5.29 am on Friday morning.

He told viewers that he was enjoying seeing elements of the sport from the other side.

Unfortunately, it was a one-off appearance.

He did confirm that Craig Breen and James Fulton will return to the fray today after a very unlucky Friday run resulted in retirement for the day caused by excessive front understeer in their Ford Puma

Looking ahead to Saturday, which is still Friday in this part of the world – there are seven stages are scheduled, beginning with an opening loop of three timed tests:

Nukata Forest (SS8 10.07 pm and SS11 3.37am 20.56km),

Lake Mikawako (SS9 11.08pm SS12 4.38 am), 14.74km)

Shinshiro City (12.03 am SS10, 7.08km) before a twice-run super special at Okazaki City (6.49 am SS13/14, 1.40km) to conclude the day’s modest 80.48km leg.

Looking back on Friday Elfyn Evans headed Thierry Neuville by the narrowest of margins as the day’s brutal opening leg cut holes through the field at FORUM8 Rally Japan.

Just 3.0sec split the pair after the first full day of action on technical mountain roads around Aichi, with Evans’ GR Yaris holding strong on the home soil of his Toyota Gazoo Racing squad.

Japan is back on the FIA World Rally Championship calendar for the first time since 2010 and the all-new asphalt event has already claimed the scalps of multiple frontline drivers. Dani Sordo’s Hyundai i20 N was the first to go – his car reduced to a sorry-looking shell after catching fire in the opener.

Sordo’s drama resulted in a shortened morning loop, with the first pass of Inabu Dam cancelled due to delays. After two stages Evans and Neuville were level pegging as they returned to mid-leg service in the Toyota Stadium.

“It’s been tough and quite short,” said Evans. “We’re only four stages down but it’s still not been easy.

“The stages are very demanding and there’s a different feeling in all of them – you’re always wanting something different from the car. Tomorrow is more of the same and it’s going to be changeable,” he added.

Hometown hero Takamoto Katsuta was another man struggling with understeer although his confidence did start to blossom with each stage that passed. Laying 20.6sec back from the lead, a strong result is still within reach for the Toyota driver.

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