Katsuta happy to prove “bulls***” doubters wrong

The Japanese star feels the speed and consistency he delivered in Japan proves he can fight for WRC victories in the future


Takamoto Katsuta’s drive on Rally Japan was undoubtedly the most impressive of his World Rally Championship career.

Fastest on 10 of the 22 stages, Katsuta arguably deserved much better than the fifth place he salvaged following his Friday-morning spin.

On his home rally, the Toyota driver proved that he can deliver frontrunning pace throughout an entire event. And in doing so, he responded in the best possible way to critics who scoffed at his pre-event target of challenging for victory.

“In terms of speed, it was very good,” reflected Katsuta. “I felt very confident and comfortable in the car. Of course a few stages a bit struggling, but almost all of the stages I felt a very good feeling so I was able to push on the limit and it was very enjoyable to drive.”

Takamoto Katsuta

Katsuta has achieved four podium finishes in his WRC career to date, his best result being second on Safari Rally Kenya in 2021.

He backed that up with third on the same event a year later, then scored a dream podium at home in Japan last season. His third position on Rally Finland this summer was perhaps his most impressive performance yet.

But, although it didn’t yield a podium, Katsuta’s drive on Rally Japan eclipsed his Finland showing and comes at a time when Toyota is set to give him more responsibility. The 30-year-old will be one of only two full-time drivers in the team next year, meaning he will be nominated to score manufacturers’ points on the majority – if not all – events.

Katsuta himself believes that his standout performance on Rally Japan was based upon having the confidence to push harder for longer. Importantly, it has shown him how he can maintain such levels in future.

Even that tree-bashing moment in treacherous conditions on Friday didn’t hurt his inner belief. And as the fastest stage times came, so that confidence snowballed.

“Other rallies, some stages I was able to push then time is good,” said Katsuta. “But most of the stages, some hesitation and small, small things are there and then basically [that adds up to] losing a lot of time at the end.

“So this time I was pushing really much, and trying to find where I can more push, more push, more push. Then obviously this is bringing quite good time every stages. And [at the] same time also giving me the confidence to push it on the same pace.

Takamoto Katsuta

“I think this was a kind of way to really push in the future, to finding the confidence and the feeling and to fighting in front.”

Expanding on what made the difference in Japan, Katsuta was quick to acknowledge that he’s not yet on the consistent level of his illustrious team-mates Kalle Rovanperä, Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans, who have 10 world titles and 77 WRC rally wins between them.

He said: “For sure, this weekend confidence level gave me a lot of confidence. But SS2 I made a mistake and these kinds of things easily [your] rally can be over.

“So I need to find a very limit and what I need to [pay] attention a bit more. But I can be optimistic, I can more push more like this kind of level – it’s very, very important.


“But obviously Kalle, Seb, Elfyn, I have seen all of them and they are very, very good, very strong at these kind of things. So that’s why they can bring the very good results and speed and without mistakes. So I think this is next step to what I really need to do.”

Now there is a brief window in Katsuta’s busy schedule for some rest and recuperation. Ahead of what could be a career-defining year, he has belief in his ability and knows he has taken a big step towards proving his doubters wrong.

“Maybe until the end of December or Christmas I try to rest as much as I can with the family,” he said. “Don’t think about rallying; try to be a bit away.

“Because during the season it’s quite no chance to spend time with the family. Only thing that I’m [doing is] always preparing for the rallies. And then rally is done, next rally preparing, so it feels like never ends.

Takamoto Katsuta

“So finally now start a little bit rest, a bit with family, and take a good rest for the future.”

Then maybe this time next year, we won’t just be talking about Katsuta’s string of fastest stage times but the first Japanese winner of a WRC event since Kenjiro Shinozuka more than 30 years ago.

“Before this weekend, my target was to come here for fighting the victory,” Katsuta admitted. “For sure, some people was thinking that Taka saying bullsh*** or something. But I was very serious and I hope this weekend the performance I did will prove what I really wanted.

“But yeah, definitely next year I need to bring back the good result, not like this year.”