Jari-Matti Latvala has expressed concern that Toyota junior driver Takamoto Katsuta is putting too much pressure on himself after mistakes, which risks further affecting his performances.
Katsuta endured a tricky World Rally Championship season opener on the Monte Carlo Rally, suffering multiple small spins before beaching his Yaris on a culvert and dropping 10 minutes on Saturday.
Saint-Geniez – Thoard, the stage on which Katsuta slid wide and got stuck, proved to be the trickiest of the rally.
Reigning WRC3 champion Yohan Rossel had an identical crash to Katsuta not long after the Toyota driver, and Ott Tänak crashed his Hyundai a little further up the road on the morning pass of the stage, retiring afterward.
But even though Katsuta was not alone in his mistake, he came down hard on himself regardless, something that worried Latvala.
“All I would say is he was a little bit even depressed [on Saturday],” Latvala told DirtFish. “He was really so hard on himself.
“If we look at it, his performance has been good on the rally. I said OK, same as Elfyn [Evans, who went off earlier on Saturday] – small mistake, big penalty. I said, ‘OK, you brought car back, there is no damage’.
“Of course, he lost time, but then I tried to be positive: ‘Let’s forget, let’s focus on a new day’ because he takes it really hard on himself.”
That initial mistake brought the risk of starting a cycle of negativity, warned Latvala.
It was a problem encountered by Katsuta last season when, after a strong run of results in the first half of the season, a crash on Rally Estonia kicked off a sequence of five crashes on five events to end the year.
“Then he starts to build up the pressure on himself even more and I try to avoid that happening because then I’m afraid the performance will start to drop,” said Latvala.
“So the main thing is we try to be positive and find the positive things with Taka.”
Though Katsuta was clearly affected by his mistake on the Monte, Latvala said he does not believe doubt is starting to creep into the driver’s self-belief.
“I don’t think that’s what it’s about, I’m just afraid he starts to build up too much pressure,” he said.
“That is what I’m afraid of, and then that will affect [him] because he’s a little bit like me, that he’s thinking about the mistakes, and when you overthink it’s not good.”