Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta from Japan enjoyed a positive start to his eight-round 2020 campaign at the highest level of the FIA World Rally Championship, claiming a seventh-place finish on Rallye Monte-Carlo in his best result so far of his career.
Rallye Monte-Carlo is the oldest and most famous event on the WRC calendar and is known for the unpredictable weather conditions that are challenging the drivers. This year, temperatures were relatively mild compared to years before, but there were still some sections of ice and snow as well as rain and mud on the tarmac roads.
After completing the event on his Monte-Carlo debut last year in a Ford Fiesta R5, Katsuta put that experience into use for his third world championship start in the Toyota Yaris WRC.
With the conditions changing rapidly, Katsuta and experienced co-driver Daniel Barritt relied on their ice-note crew of Juho Hänninen and Craig Parry to provide the latest information.
“I’m so happy to have reached the end of the rally with lots of experience. I can see that I made a lot of progress from the start to the end of the weekend,” Katsuta said.
“I learned a lot about how to drive in different conditions and with different tyre options. I’m also getting more understanding of the car.”
“On Saturday morning the conditions were very difficult and I made a mistake, but after that, I could reset my mind and I had a pretty good feeling.”
“My times, in the end, were pretty fine compared to other drivers who’ve done the same stages many times. Thank you to my co-driver, Dan, my gravel crew Juho and Craig and the whole team – they did a brilliant job.” Katsuta added.
Katsuta began the rally with the aim of completing it and to gather more vital experience and trying to avoid mistakes. This approach already brought him up to seventh overall on the first full day of stages on the first full-day.
On Saturday morning’s first stage he slid wide into a snowbank and lost over three minutes stopping to clear snow from the radiator. In the afternoon, Katsuta improved his pace and set competitive times among the other drivers. He carried that form into the final day on Sunday and completed the rally.
“I am very pleased that Taka and Dan finished their Rallye Monte-Carlo with the Yaris WRC. The target was to finish rally to get experience, so Taka took it pretty carefully when conditions were mixed and difficult.” Jarkko Miettinen, Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge Program instructor, said.
“I know how much patience this requires, as a driver always likes to show on every stage how fast he can drive. When the road was drier, Taka showed pretty good speed and especially during the whole Sunday loop he was good driving on a high level.”