How Toyota can help Katsuta

Takamoto Katsuta needs to bounce back after his Portugal crash, but he has some experienced colleagues to call on for advice


In the midst of a run of gravel rallies through the European late spring and early summer, the World Rally Championship events come thick and fast.

Factoring in the recce, there’s barely a fortnight between Rally Portugal concluding last week and the teams kicking back into gear on the Mediterranean island of Sardinia next week. So if things went wrong last time out, what can you do to give yourself a better chance of a good result in the follow-up?

That might be a question Takamoto Katsuta is asking himself right now. It’s becoming all too common an occurrence for Toyota’s Japanese driver to show the pace for a podium – or even victory – fight, but end up coming away disappointed.


Kalle Rovanperä and Sébastien Ogier aren't bad people to ask for advice about closing out rallies

Perhaps, by his own admission, the solution is to ask his illustrious team Sébastien Ogier. The eight-time world champion is the master of striking the right balance between fast pace and caution; that often very fine line that Katsuta found himself crossing once more in Portugal.

“I think for sure if I ask at some point, he will tell me everything that he knows – I’m pretty sure,” Katsuta told DirtFish as he reflected on a suspension-cracking moment on the first run through Portugal’s famous Amarante stage and how to eliminate those small but costly errors.

“We are quite open and he’s always helping me when I have some questions and giving me the tips. And Kalle [Rovanperä] as well. Why not? Like we have the same team and I will for sure – I would like to speak with him.”

With the WRC’s tight testing restrictions, Toyota’s drivers have often struggled to perfect the GR Yaris Rally1’s setup. It was clear they were not happy on Friday in Portugal after conducting a combined pre-event test for Portugal and Sardinia on the Italian island. Despite the limited time, Katsuta is confident the team can give him the tools he needs for the upcoming rough gravel event.

“Of course, what we learned from this weekend was something could help for Sardinia as well,” he said. “Engineers are already working on it, looking for it, for some kind of improvements for Sardinia. It’s a different country but we can make something better for the next one, I have no doubt it will be better.”

Asked for more detail on the areas of focus, Katsuta added: “They are working on everything, of course! Chassis, dampers, engine and everything, so it’s kind of balance, not only one part or something like this. It’s always a package, and you have seen also we did the test in Sardinia, so it should be working well.”