Takamoto Katsuta

Katsuta was fast-tracked by Toyota in the manufacturer’s quest to unearth a frontline WRC driver from Japan. Never seen without a smile but possessing resolve and purpose, he demonstrated the ability to challenge for podiums after completing two full campaigns in the WRC’s top-flight.

Nationality JAP
Date of birth 17.03.1993
Birthplace Nagoya, Japan
Aaron Johnston
First WRC rally 2016, Rally Finland
First WRC stage win
2020, Rally Monza SS16
WRC stage wins
First WRC podium
2021, Rally Kenya
WRC podiums 5
First WRC Wolf Power Stage win2020, Rally Monza
WRC Wolf Power Stage wins
Best overall WRC event result
2nd Safari Rally Kenya 2021 & 2024
Best overall WRC season result
5th (2022)
Social media facebook.com/TakamotoKatsutaOfficial

Katsuta, known to his peers as ‘Taka’, began his motorsport career in karts. He made his debut aged 12 and was crowned Formula Challenge Japan (FCJ) champion at the age of 18.

He progressed to Japanese Formula 3 and secured second place in the series at the age of 20. It was during the 2014 Formula 3 season that he branched out into rallying, adding a campaign in the All Japan Rally Championship to his calendar and taking his first victory in the JN class.

His talent was noticed by Toyota, which in 2015 selected him to be part of its Toyota Gazoo Racing Challenge Programme for young drivers. Based in Europe, and training under the watchful eye of Tommi Mäkinen, Katsuta’s development included a variety of rallies in Finland and elsewhere in Europe.

He tackled WRC2 in 2017 and 2018 in a Ford Fiesta R5 and scored a shock win at Rally Sweden. That was sufficient for Toyota to select him ahead of fellow programme driver Hiroki Arai for further development.

He bagged another WRC2 win in Chile in 2019 and a top 10 finish in Germany on his Yaris World Rally Car debut. He tackled most of 2020’s shortened campaign in the headline category, guided by the experienced Dan Barritt.

In 2021, Katsuta tackled a full World Rally Car season under the watchful eye of mentor and former Toyota works driver Juho Hänninen.

He scored a career-best sixth at the first round in Monte-Carlo. Fourth-place results in Portugal and Italy were even more impressive, but he went even better in Kenya by netting his first podium with second. A series of crashes spoiled the second half of the season but, in 2022 with Aaron Johnston alongside, he improved massively.

A huge step-up in consistency saw Katsuta finish 12 of the 13 rounds as well as securing a brace of third-place finishes in Kenya and on home soil at FORUM8 Rally Japan – resulting in fifth in the overall drivers’ championship standings.

A troublesome opening half of the 2023 season left Katsuta and co-driver Johnston playing catch-up. Scoring manufacturers' championship points for Toyota's main team on selected rounds, the pair recovered to achieve strong results including third place at Secto Rally Finland and fourth at Safari Rally Kenya. 

Pleased by his progress, Toyota promoted Katsuta to a full-time point-scoring role for 2024. He drives the team's second GR Yaris, with Elfyn Evans piloting the lead car.  

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 8:30:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 9:30:00 AM