Why Katsuta’s Greece woes shouldn’t reappear in New Zealand

A lack of confidence for Takamoto Katsuta made for a tough Acropolis Rally, but he's putting that behind him in New Zealand


Toyota has not been in denial about its Acropolis Rally Greece woes – its car simply wasn’t all there on the rocky roads compared to Hyundai and M-Sport.

All four drivers struggled. A frustrated Kalle Rovanperä ran wide and hit a tree while on roadsweeping duties, mirroring a similar incident he’d had in Italy but this time with bigger consequences. Elfyn Evans had to make do battling the third Hyundai before the turbo conked out. And Esapekka Lappi, while fighting near the front, had already consigned himself to finishing behind the two leading Hyundais before his GR Yaris ground to a halt with a fuel pressure fault.

Takamoto Katsuta’s car didn’t let him down, nor did he hit anything big and solid. But he was, to be frank, quite slow by works driver standards.

There were 16 stages on the Acropolis. On 11 of them, Katsuta was outpaced by at least one Rally2 car. It was, as Katsuta himself confessed at the time, a “mess of a weekend”.

Heading to New Zealand, he’s trying to put all that behind him. But to do that, he’s facing up to the reality of the situation.

That messy weekend wasn’t because the car was all at sea. Yes, the Toyota wasn’t as fast as the other cars – but he admits he was the main reason his pace was so far off the mark, not his GR Yaris Rally1.

“In general from the pacenotes I lost some confidence side, my feeling side. Mainly mentally I lost something,” Katsuta confessed to DirtFish. “Even the car was working quite OK but I was not able to push because I was afraid of so many things.”

It helps that Greece and New Zealand have fundamentally different types of stage. It marks a chance to reset and start over. He might have finished sixth in Greece but Katsuta knows a repeat of his Acropolis problems can’t be allowed to happen.


“Greece is a different story compared to this one,” he said. “So I just tried to forget a bit and I made a new pacenote for every stage, for sure. It felt OK after I checked everything on video. Let’s see on shakedown and on Friday how it’s going.”

The signs, for now, are positive that there won’t be a repeat of Greece. Katsuta hinted that he was probably going to struggle before the rally even got underway last time around – but there’s no such talk in New Zealand.

“Let’s say everything is going well for the moment,” said Katsuta. “We did a test in Finland and it felt good.

“We need to forget a bit about Greece and prepare well for this rally. But it feels quite good.”