British co-driver Daniel Barritt will reunite with Toyota Gazoo protege Takamoto Katsuta for a 13-round WRC 2 programme in 2019.
Barritt navigated Katsuta in 2016, but has partnered Elfyn Evans at the M-Sport Ford World Rally Team for the last two seasons. Currently however, Evans faces an uncertain future with no WRC programme confirmed.
Barritt replaces Marko Salminen alongside the Japanese youngster as he bids to take the next step towards a top line WRC drive.
The pair will campaign a Ford Fiesta R5 at every WRC round except Kennards Hire Rally Australia. They will also tackle two rounds of the Finnish Rally Championship in a Yaris World Rally Car.
Katsuta said he was ‘extremely grateful’ to Salminen for his support, and was keen to show Barritt how he has developed.
“Daniel has decided to take on the challenge of once again rallying alongside me, and I am excited to show him how much I have improved over the last two years,” he said.
“The Rally Challenge Program has been strengthened, and so an even more rigorous world awaits me. However, I am determined to push myself to the limits, and I am confident that I will be able to grow significantly.”
Program supervisor, and Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Mäkinen said he was impressed by Katsuta’s progress during the last three-and-a-half years, and that setting new goals would support his development.
“The targets for the coming season are for Katsuta to understand the importance of consistency and balanced work in long WRC events, build confidence, learn to deal with the pressure, and step up to the level of a WRC professional,” he explained.
Mäkinen confirmed Katsuta’s sole target for the season-opening Rallye Monte-Carlo was to get reacquainted with Barritt in preparation for a harder push at the second round in Sweden – the scene of his maiden WRC 2 event win in 2018.