It’s rare that a driver opens up and blames themselves for a sub-par performance in a moment of public self-reflection.
No driver wants to show any signs of weakness. They’ve all grown up being trained to do the exact opposite.
If you show a weakness, your rivals will try and find a way to exploit it, ensuring you stay one step behind all of the time.
But rather than try and shy away from the fact his performances so far this season have fallen flat of his pre-season targets, Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta has faced the elephant in the room head on.
And he’s taking the blame.
“Let’s say my driving,” was Katsuta’s response when asked by DirtFish where progress needs to come from this year.
“Of course, I drive, I find what’s wrong with my driving style and also that sometimes we found some good setup as well on the Sunday [of Croatia Rally]. And straight away I felt very good with the car.
“The feeling was so much better on Sunday. I was very confident with the car.
“But still, like I said, there is something missing from my side.
“This is maybe where the gap is.”
There’s no denying Katsuta is yet to replicate his 2022 form over the opening four rounds of this year’s World Rally Championship.
Sixth on Monte Carlo was followed by crashes in Sweden and México, and on the WRC’s last outing in Croatia he finished a distant sixth.
Setup was the initial issue with Katsuta’s pace in Croatia, but even when that was resolved, he was still found wanting.
But although Katsuta is frustrated by his overall pace at the moment, he also believes that the nature of Croatia’s stages didn’t overly suit him or show him in his best light. The issue though is that, right now, he’s not overly sure how far off he is in terms of rediscovering last year’s form.
“It’s hard to say. I was getting a podium in Kenya and close to podium in Portugal, both gravel rallies,” explained Katsuta.
“This is a Tarmac rally and still Tarmac I’m not so sure many things about and this kind of demanding rally especially.
“But if it’s Spain or very nice and clean on Tarmac, I can more push and I know how to drive this kind of Tarmac. So this works well.
“But this kind of tricky rally I still need to improve.”
What’s concerning though is that it’s not something Katsuta expects to solve overnight either, since he thinks he could face similar difficulties on the Central European Rally later in the season.
“It’s going to be quite challenging actually this year, [with] Germany or something.
“I guess there will be similar or even bit more different kind of cutting or something.
“But this is good rally right now to be better driver for myself.”