The Toyota Gazoo Racing development driver finished sixth in a Yaris, after battling with Sébastien Ogier and Oliver Solberg for much of the event. It equalled his performance at January’s season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo – but the 27-year-old wanted better.
“I’m happy with this weekend but I wanted to show something more and I was hoping for a better position before the rally,” Katsuta said.
“I enjoyed the stages a lot and in some splits I was fastest, while in some splits I was a bit too careful and losing too much time. When the conditions were consistent I felt very confident, but when there was loose snow or big ruts I needed to improve my driving.
“I really need to focus on this and improve if I want to get on the podium or win rallies. I still have a lot to learn and I’m even more motivated than before.”
Katsuta had more pre-event experience of the frozen forest roads around Rovaniemi than any other frontline driver. He has contested the Arctic Lapland Rally, a sister event to the WRC fixture, on three occasions
His mentor at Toyota, former works driver Juho Hänninen, viewed Katsuta’s performance in a different light.
“From my side this was the best rally that Taka has done with the Yaris WRC. I know he was expecting a bit more and maybe a slightly better result,” he said.
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“But at the same time, the time lost at the finish to the drivers ahead was quite small and clearly the smallest gap he has had in the WRC, so also from that side the result is good. He was able to drive really consistently all the time with no big mistakes.
“He could have driven faster but he knew to back off a bit in order to have a clean run and be consistent, and that’s really important. This kind of result will give him confidence for the future, I have no doubt about it,” added Hänninen.