Due to the Beijing Olympic Games during the summer, the final round of the 2008 China Rally Championship series was held late in December at Shaowu, Fujian. The champion of the National Class was to be decided in this season closer and every competitor in the other classes fought for better position in the final point standings as well.
The biggest piece of news in this event was the fact that the three cars of the Guyzhou Bailing team were now equipped with YOKOHAMA tires. The team was leading the teams' championship and two of their drivers, Liu CaoDong and Wei HongJie, were in contention for the championship for Chinese drivers, so it was expected that their decision to switch to high performance YOKOHAMA tires would help them to secure the championship crowns in the final round of the season.
The rally was enthusiastically welcomed in Shaowu, Fujian, and all of the participants, including foreign team members, let alone the drivers, were treated like movie stars. The service park was always crowded with people and a lot of local citizens swarmed around the hotels in which the team members stayed to seek autographs. Han Han, the young novelist and driver, who is very popular among young people, created such a fuss that local police had to guard his hotel because of the huge crowd of fans.
As so many spectators came to see the ceremonial start and the SS1 on Friday, it created horrible traffic jams. The fastest driver in the opening act was the Guyzhou Bailing team's ace and a newcomer to the YOKOHAMA camp, Juha Salo. Along with Dean Herridge of Subaru Rally Team China who finished the stage in third, the ADVAN equipped Chinese drivers, Liu CaoDong and Wei HongJie of Guyzhou Bailing and Herridge's teammate Li Wei, were also ranked high in the standings.
The second day started with the SS2 on Saturday and the YOKOHAMA shoed drivers led by Salo and Herridge kept their positions early. But as many as four drivers, including Wei HongJie and Wang Rui, who was one of the leading drivers in the National Class in a Shanghai VW Polo, went off the course at the same spot and were forced to retire because they lost control of their cars when they skidded on a frozen patch.
The remaining crews safely completed the day. At the end of the leg, Salo was leading the rally overall and Herridge in third was rapidly reducing the gap with his rival in second. In the National Class, Liu Bin, Qin FaWei and Ren ZhiGuo formed a one-two-three of Yiqi VW Golfs, followed by the winner of the previous round, Han Han in another Shanghai VW Polo.
On Sunday morning, the temperature dropped below zero and the competitors had to drive carefully on the icy surfaces. But there was a twist just before the last service of the day. Running in third and looking to take over second, Herridge was caught in a ditch along the course and forced to give up due to badly damaged suspension.
On top of this, another incident occurred in the final SS. The rally leader since the first day, Salo, went off the course only 2km before the finish and ended his race there. Having pushed so hard until the closing test, he tried to get back to the course using the full power of his car but without success.
Consequently, his teammate on the Guyzhou Bailing team, Liu CaoDong, finished in third overall and first among the Chinese drivers. Li Wei of Subaru Rally Team China was fifth overall and third among the Chinese.
In the National Class, after some fierce battles for third place between Ren ZhiGuo and Han Han, the former secured the position with an all-out attack in the final SS and completed the one-two-three finish by Yiqi VW Golfs.
As a result, the Guyzhou Bailing team won the teams' championship of the International Class after switching to YOKOHAMA tires for the season closer and their Chinese drivers, Liu CaoDong and Wei HongJie, finished the season in first and second among the local drivers in the International Class. Subaru Rally Team China was third in the teams' championship and Li Wei finished fourth among the Chinese drivers.
The two YOKOHAMA equipped teams, Yiqi VW and Shanghai VW, totally dominated the National Class both in the teams' and the drivers' title. Throughout the exceptionally long Chinese rally season in 2008, YOKOHAMA was able to prove the exceptional performance of its products.