Leading crews in the World Rally Championship have criticized the organizers of Rally Japan for the state of the stages on the Hokkaido event.
Running out of Sapporo for the second time, the organizers have attempted to repair the roads after the rally last ran in 2008, but the drivers are concerned that the repair won't last.
World Rally Champion Sebastien Loeb said: "I don't like the roads. We can see the ruts we made in 2008 and the organizers have tried to put some gravel on top of this to repair the road, but it won't work. The World Rally Cars will pull out this gravel and we will be driving in the ruts again.
"It's not nice to drive like this. OK, it's the same for everybody, but it's a not so good. Apart from that, I like this rally and this country. The fans are incredible. Some fans were waiting for me at the airport in Narita when I landed and they have followed me through the recce and now they're waiting at the hotel – it's incredible. They are fanatical, it's good for the atmosphere of the rally to have such passionate supporters."
This year's Rally Japan is running without a sponsor, which has forced cutbacks such as moving the service park from the prestigious, state-of-the-art Sapporo Dome to the Tsukisamu Dome, a venue two miles away originally built for the 1972 Winter Olympics, which will be knocked down after the World Rally Championship event has finished.
One team manager said: "It's clear this event is running without a sponsor – you don't see any sign of the WRC being here until you're 50 meters away from service. It's a shame, especially when you see how many fans are here and how much passion those fans have got."