Katsuta’s eyes ‘weren’t used to’ Yaris’ speed on winning return

Takamoto Katsuta blew off the cobwebs with a controlled victory on Kokkola Juhlaralli at the weekend

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Takamoto Katsuta maintained his 100% win record on Finnish national rallies with victory on Saturday’s Kokkola Juhlaralli – once his eyes had got back up to speed with the Toyota Yaris WRC.

Katsuta won all seven stages to take the win by 1m22 seconds from Aleksi Röyhkiö’s Škoda Fabia R5. That victory follows success on the Riihimäki-Ralli and SM-Itäralli rallies last year and, driving the only Rally1 car in the field, the win was telegraphed. But still had to be delivered.

Katsuta admitted he was feeling the effects of six months out of the car.

“The last time I drove was in Sweden in February,” he told DirtFish. “I did a test two weeks ago, but we came straight into a very fast first stage – the average speed was 140kph (87mph). I was a little bit nervous of this after the recce, my eyes were not used to the speed after not driving for sixth months.

“I had almost forgotten what an incredible car this one is. When you get in the Yaris and feel the downforce and the speed is getting very high, it’s fantastic. Everything went to the plan – the plan was to get mileage and we did that.”

Katsuta’s co-driver Dan Barritt was also happy to get back in the car, having missed the test last month.

“My co-driver last month was Juho Hänninen,” said Katsuta. “A good co-driver, but it was very nice to have Dan back. I don’t think he was nervous, but like my eyes, his eyes had to get used to the speed as well!”

Photos:André Lavadinho

Words:David Evans