Katsuta gets first taste of wet asphalt in Spain as development continues

by Vince Pettit
Takamoto Katsuta

Takamoto Katsuta was thrown in at the deep end for the 2018 RallyRACC Catalunya – Rally de España as he continues his development under the Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge Program.

While he took part in the 2017 edition of the rally, the conditions this year were much more challenging, presenting the Japanese driver with his first taste of wet asphalt.

Katsuta along with co-driver Marko Salminen put in a solid performance on the first full day of the event in their Ford Fiesta R5, including recording the third fastest WRC2 time on SS4, before an off on SS6 forced them to retire.

Saturday saw Kasuta rejoin the event under Rally 2 conditions, facing an entirely new experience of wet and muddy asphalt.

“This was quite a complicated rally for me, but I was able to learn a lot from so many different conditions during the weekend.” said Katsuta.

“I was happy with my speed on gravel. As well as the time on stage four, our split times on other stages were quite fast. I just need to make fewer mistakes.

“On Saturday I was quite nervous about the rain but my confidence got better and better, and on Sunday it was similar when I had less grip because of the dry tyres.

Takamoto Katsuta

Credit: Toyota

“Overall, I’m quite happy about my year and about my improvement and progress. I found quite a lot of things I need to work on, but I will keep working hard to improve.

“I want to say thank you to the team. I have gained a lot of experience and have grown a lot with them. They always lead me in the right direction. Many thanks and see you soon!”

Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge Program supervisor Tommi Mäkinen was happy with the progress achieved in Spain, but admitted that there is still work to be done to get the full potential out of the Japanese driver.

“This weekend was another important experience for Takamoto.” said Mäkinen. “He showed some good performance on gravel but made a few mistakes.

“Saturday was his first day ever on wet asphalt, which was very difficult. On Sunday the conditions were a bit more enjoyable and he was able to keep driving through the stages and complete the rally.

“I am pleased with how the Challenge Program has developed this year. Takamoto has shown good progress but rallying is somewhere where you need experience, and he still needs more in order to fully show his potential.

“We are building a good schedule for him for next year.”

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