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Thu 06 Jan 2022

Latvala backs Katsuta for 2022 success

Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Jari-Matti Latvala has tipped Takamoto Katsuta for more podium results during the inaugural hybrid-powered FIA World Rally Championship season.

Katsuta starts his second full WRC campaign with Toyota in 2022 and Latvala is sure his third place at last season’s Safari Rally Kenya will have given him the confidence to be pushing for more top-three finishes – even if the second half of the year saw a downturn in form.

“We went to some really high moments with Taka last year,” said Latvala. “You have to think like Kenya was a really great result. But then came some difficult period. Not all of these rallies were because of himself – there was not much he could have done himself.

“I know his self-confidence was affected [by a difficult run of results] and it gave more pressure and so trying to get back to the same level as Kenya was difficult.”

Latvala was impressed with how Katsuta turned re-focused after a late crash at the season-closing FORUM8 ACI Rally Monza in November.

“OK,” said Latvala, “he did a mistake in Monza on the second to last stage, but it was important for him to finish the rally on a good note. 

“I told him: ‘We fixed the car and now I want you to go out and drive it flat out.’ And he did a very good last stage. He finished the rally and the season.

“Can he make more podiums this season? I believe so, we reached one podium last season and I think we can do more next year.”  

The championship kicks off in under a fortnight at Rallye Monte-Carlo (20 - 23 January). Katsuta has previous knowledge of the rally and finished sixth on the event last year.

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