Monday | 22 Mar 2021

Katsuta harbours mixed feelings from 2021 opening

Takamoto Katsuta says his start to this year’s FIA World Rally Championship has left him both happy and frustrated.

Toyota Gazoo Racing’s Japanese star scored career-best sixth-place finishes at Rallye Monte-Carlo and Arctic Rally Finland Powered by CapitalBox, but said his Lapland outing left him unsatisfied.

“I expected more from that rally,” said Katsuta, who has been based in Finland since 2015 and is tackling his first full WRC programme in a Yaris World Rally Car.

“OK, my speed was not so bad in some places, maybe quite good, but this was in the fast sections. When the road was coming more narrow and more technical then I was a little bit afraid to go too close to the snowbanks.

Video: Croatia Rally

“I had been to the snowbanks twice in my test and I knew a small mistake like this could mean losing a lot of time.

“I understand on a winter rally like this, the banks can help you, but also they can be not your friend. I feel I have some good experience in these conditions and I could have shown even more speed and made a better result.”

Katsuta’s impression from the season-opener in the French Alps was less self-critical.

“The first rally, Monte-Carlo, was different. The conditions there were so difficult and changing all the time. The times my team-mate Sébastien [Ogier] was doing on these stages were incredible.

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“So far, I would say I am a little bit happy and a little bit frustrated,” he explained.

Katsuta praised the work of his team in helping him understand where he could find more speed from both rallies.

“My engineers – and all the team – have been really good,” he said. “We have a debrief and they are able to show me on the data where my speed is compared with the others. We have some very, very great drivers in our team, so it’s good for me to take some confidence from what the engineers are telling me.”

Looking forward, Katsuta’s focus is on further levelling his asphalt learning curve at the Croatia Rally (22 - 25 April).

“I want to take it step-by-step,” he said. “There are some rallies I’m really looking forward to, places like Finland and Estonia where I know a little bit more about the roads, but this year is about making more experience.”

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