Takamoto Katsuta lost out to seven-time world champion Sébastien Ogier on Safari Rally Kenya but has his sights set on overturning the balance in the near future.
Katsuta led a World Rally Championship event for the first time when Thierry Neuville retired after sustaining damage on Sunday’s opening test, but was soon reeled in by Ogier having shared the lead with the championship leader two stages from home.
“For a long time I haven’t been in this kind of place, so I’m very happy [but there’s] still a lot of things to improve and run,” Katsuta told DirtFish after the rally.
“Still not enough [performance], but let’s say I thought now was not time to fight with Séb, but near the future I try to catch him. Now is [time to] just try to improve and running.”
Looking ahead to July’s Rally Estonia, Katsuta is optimistic that the opportunity will be there to claim an “even better result” than last week.
“I have done testing last week in Estonia. I feel very, very good and I feel quite confident on that kind of stages,” he said.
“I tried to push, I think I let’s say, I will push ever like maybe – big push for sure to get even better result.
“But of course everybody going flat-out at the rally so it’s never easy, but I take this quite a lot and to see what’s going to happen.”
Katsuta’s career-best finish on what was truly a rally of attrition on the WRC’s return to the Safari was particularly impressive and comes on the back of two solid fourth place finishes in Sardinia and Portugal.
It further consolidated Katsuta’s best-ever start to a WRC season as he lies fifth in the world championship, ahead of Kalle Rovanperä and just three points shy of Ott Tänak.
“I have done this really tough weekend, and a lot of things happened, same as the other guys. In the beginning we got damage on the radiator and then got damage on the car” Katsuta explained.
“A lot of things happened, but we tried to fix and our team guys also did a great job and they fixed it perfectly. So thanks to them, and I’m really happy to give them back this kind of thanks.”
Do you think Katsuta is capable of winning a WRC rally this year? Have your say in the comments.