Toyota’s Takamato Katsuta shouldn’t try and “hurry” his development in order to get a fully-backed works drive for next season, according to his team principal Jari-Matti Latvala.
After a shaky end to his 2019 World Rally Championship season, Katsuta has been in impressive form this season, finishing fourth in both Italy and Portugal and sixth on the first three rallies.
Katsuta’s pace has been one of the most consistent in the championship so far this season and during some stages he has been the fastest Toyota driver. He even sits ahead of Kalle Rovanperä in the championship.
This rate of improvement he has shown has impressed the Toyota boss.
The way he is now working, one day I can clearly see that he could be in the top-three driver line-upJari-Matti Latvala
“For me he has been really consistent, he did a really good job, and very, very good steps speed-wise, getting forward,” explained Latvala.
“The target is to reach the podium this year, which I think is very close, it will come quite soon.”
But while the podium result Katsuta is targeted with does look like a realistic prospect this season, Latvala has warned him not to push too hard for it straightaway.
“I would advise him to keep going with this process, but not to hurry,” he said. “The way he is now working, one day I can clearly see that he could be in the top-three driver line-up. But I wouldn’t hurry too much this year.
“But still build that process, and still keep working the way he has been doing and then maybe the focus still next year is to do these steps and maybe 2023 would be the year to be in the main team.”
Latvala’s reasoning for this approach is that Katsusta is yet to get himself into a position where he is experiencing the pressure that comes with fighting for rallies and titles, and that at the start of the year he made some mistakes which need to be ironed out, especially in changing conditions.
“He has been doing great results, but the game will be different when you are up there,” added Latvala.
“The pressure is there that you have to be delivering the results, bringing the points. The game will change, and to be ready for that, I think he just needs a bit more experience. Because it’s not an easy task to be in that position.
“In the beginning of the year I was a little bit worried that the changing conditions is difficult for him, but then he has been able to improve all the time.
“But probably I would say maybe the changing conditions is probably the area he needs to still do a bit of work.
“The strong point is that he has this ability to drive, when everything is [right], he has notes and he has the confidence, the performance, the speed is there, his ability to drive is great.”