Takamoto Katsuta has promised his home fans he will spend the remainder of Rally Japan on the limit in an effort to further demonstrate his pace and give them something to cheer.
The Japanese dropped more than two minutes on the first stage proper on Friday morning and then saw another two slip as he carried damage through the ensuing test.
The team fixed the car at lunchtime service and Katsuta repaid it with a string of fastest times through the afternoon. Three stage wins were, however, bittersweet for the local star.
“Huge thanks to the team for the work at lunchtime,” Katsuta said. “The car felt very comfortable this afternoon – we had no moments at all.
“It’s a big shame for me what happened this morning. We could have fought for the victory on this rally and I need accept and improve without this kind of mistake for the future.
“It’s tough for the fans. I know there are a lot of people watching this week and I will try to make them smile for the rest of the event.”
Talking about his approach through Saturday and Sunday, Katsuta said: “For sure, the rally has a long way to go and we will never give up. I will keep pushing and anything can happen. I try to be on the limit and keep pushing.”
Toyota technical director Tom Fowler praised Katsuta’s afternoon, saying: “He’s come back from what happened this morning and won all three stages – and he’s done that while the rally is still alive.
“This is not winning stages while Sunday driving, this is Friday, traditionally the most intense day of the event. He’s won every stage he’s completed with the car in working order.”
Katsuta will start Saturday’s leg ninth overall, over five minutes behind his rally-leading team-mate Elfyn Evans but just 25.1s adrift of Ott Tänak’s M-Sport Ford.