Could Katsuta follow Rovanperä into drifting?

World champion says Toyota team-mate has lost none of his bravery and skill despite three years away from discipline


Kalle Rovanperä has created a neat sideline for himself with his drifting exploits, but now the World Rally Champion is encouraging his team-mate Takamoto Katsuta to get involved too.

Just a few days before Rally Portugal, Katsuta was back in a drift car for the first time in three years and, according to Rovanperä, it was like he had never been away.

“Yeah, actually, it looked better than I was even expecting,” he said. “Taka hasn’t been really practising anywhere, just on the sim.”

So, does this mean we’re going to see more sideways action from the Toyota driver? With some encouragement from Rovanperä, it could well be on the cards. “The plan is for Taka to start to practice a bit more,” the Finn explained. “Maybe if he has time, if he wants, we will take him to some race. Let’s see.”

Kalle Rovanperä

Rovanperä's time away from the WRC has given him more opportunity to burn rubber

The heavily modified GR Yaris that Katsuta was driving was actually built by Rovanperä’s team and had just undergone some significant updates.

The two-time champion was particularly impressed by the way his team-mate showed the bravery to pull-off the most challenging move in drifting – sliding with the rear of the car just inches from a concrete wall – after so long out of the discipline.

It’s a move that takes skill and bravery, but Rovanperä knows that Katsuta is not short of either of those, as he explained to DirtFish in Portugal. He said: “That’s the most difficult thing you can do in drifting. I knew it’s not about confidence and balls for Taka.”

It was a crash that ended Katsuta’s podium hopes at Rally Portugal, and Rovanperä believes that balancing commitment and restraint will be important should he decide to make his own competitive drifting debut.

“I was trying to calm him down, not to break the car,” Rovanperä said. “If he goes to drive somewhere, it will not be, for sure, an issue that he’s not pushing enough. He’s always pushing enough. It was nice to see.”