There were no major motor sport events scheduled during the biggest undertaking of the year for China, the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. As for the China Rally Championship (CRC), the original plan was for the first two events to be held before the Olympic Games. But, in fact, only the Shanghai round was run because the opening round of the CRC at Kaiyang, Guizhou, had to be cancelled due to a typhoon.
Now that the Olympic Games have ended, the motor sport events are back. The first of them, the second round of the CRC (which tours around the China mainland) was held at Mohe, Heilongjang Sheng in the northernmost area of the country. The host town is close to the Russian border and, even in the beginning of September, the temperature drops below zero early in the morning.
The ceremonial start was held at the city center of Mohe on Friday, September 5. Despite cold weather and rain, many spectators came to watch the start of the event.
The full-scale competition started on Saturday, September 6. In this rally, the competitive distances of each Special Stage (SS) were set from 20km to 30km, which was much longer than that of other rounds. In addition to the unusual length, the stages had many long straightaways and high speed corners so the average speed of the rally was much higher than usual. And because of this, many competitors crashed their cars in the reconnaissance runs, which led to the cancellation of two SSs in the last minute.
In the continuous rain and cold weather, the SS1 and SS2 were run under wet conditions. One of the favorites for the overall win, Dean Herridge (Subaru Impreza, International Class), had trouble with his brake system in the SS1 and lost a lot of ground from the leader. His car was repaired in the service park after the SS2 and then he was able to register very fast stage times in the SS3 and SS4. But he had already lost too much time in the early stages and dropped out of contention for the top slot.
In the National Class, for which only two wheel drive cars are eligible, Lui Bin in a Yiqi VW Golf was in second and Wang Rui driving a Shanghai VW Polo followed him. But there was a twist in the closing phase of Day 1. After putting the fastest time in the National Class at the SS3 in pursuit of the leaders, Wang Rui had a failure on his right rear suspension immediately after the start of the SS4, which was the final test of Leg 1. Although he managed to finish the SS4, he lost considerable time because of his mechanical failures and fell to sixth in the National Class. As a result, Lui Bin kept his position and finished Leg 1 in second, followed by Qin Fa Wei in another Golf and Han Han in a VW Polo in third and fourth respectively.
Leg 2 started in a dense fog which covered the area around Mohe the following morning. Because of the sub-zero temperature, it took longer for the surfaces to dry up after the rain the day before so the wet and slippery surfaces remained, while the competitors had to go flat out on the dry part of the surfaces and straightaways, which was very tricky.
Subaru's ace, Herridge, was forced to retire before the start of Leg 2 because he had trouble with his engine on the way from parc ferme to the service park. As the third round of the series at Changbaishan, Jilin, would be held after only a two week interval, the team decided to retire to avoid further damage to the car.
Meanwhile in the National Class, Wang Rui, who was delayed by suspension trouble the previous day, pushed very hard and recovered to fourth at the end of the SS6, following the leader and two VW Golfs. At this point, however, the organizers decided to cancel the SS7 and SS8, as they judged the conditions to be too dangerous due to the excessive speed. In fact, the top speed of the fastest car reached 225km/h.
In the final twist of the rally, the leader of the National Class was disqualified because he failed to stop his car at the specified point after the finish of the final SS. Consequently, Lui Bin was declared the winner of the rally, followed by Qin Fa Wei and Wang Rui, which meant that the podium of the National Class was occupied completely by YOKOHAMA users. Wang Rui also took the first place in the 1600cc cup.