Day one of last weekend’s Rally Estonia was the highlight of Takamoto Katsuta’s career according to Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC Challenge Program instructor Jarkko Miettinen.
The Finn is in charge of Katsuta’s development aboard the Yaris WRC and he was full of praise for the Japanese, despite his Sunday morning crash from fifth place.
Miettinen said: “Taka drove really well, fast and consistently on Friday and Saturday. Saturday was surely his best performance ever. His driving looked clean and straightforward.”
Rally Estonia was Katsuta’s fifth start in a Yaris WRC in the world championship and his third of this season. While he’s won four national rallies in the car before, he’s yet to finish higher than seventh in the WRC.
That was scored on Rally Monte Carlo where Katsuta battled through technical problems finished 11m27.9s down on rally winner Thierry Neuville.
But Miettinen pointed to the stage times from Katsuta in Estonia, highlighting the way he’d halved the gap to the leaders from his previous outing at Rally Sweden.
“After SS12 on Sunday morning, he was fifth overall and his gap to the leader was 0.41 seconds per kilometer,” he said.
“This difference is much better than we had expected and a big improvement compared to Sweden, when the gap was 0.81 seconds per kilometrers.
“In my opinion, Rally Estonia was a strong performance from Taka and Dan [Barritt, co-driver], even though it ended too early. In rallying, every positive learning curve has some occasional bumps.”
Katsuta will miss Rally Turkey but will be back behind the wheel of TGR’s fourth Yaris WRC at Rally Italy Sardinia and the Ypres Rally in Belgium.