Sat 28 May 2022

Latvala: Katsuta is strong

Jari-Matti Latvala is confident Toyota Gazoo Racing Challenge Program driver Takamoto Katsuta is back on form following his strong fourth place at last week’s Vodafone Rally de Portugal.

Katsuta just missed out on a second career podium after Hyundai’s Dani Sordo snatched third place on the Wolf Power Stage in Fafe.

Despite missing out on a clean sweep of the Portuguese podium, with Katsuta’s fellow Yaris Rally1 drivers Kalle Rovanperä and Elfyn Evans leading the field home, Latvala was pleased with the Japanese driver's performance. 

“This was a really strong drive from [Katsuta],” said Latvala. “His times through the whole rally in Portugal were really good and if you look to the Power Stage, you can see that still his time was strong – Dani was just a little bit raising his speed. 

“I think we are seeing Taka back to becoming his best again now. He has had some difficult times a little bit and Croatia wasn’t such an easy rally for anybody last time, but now I think he’s strong. Honestly, I think he needs to be proud for his speed in Portugal and for where he is now. The podium will come again.”

Those sentiments were echoed by Juho Hänninen, his instructor on the Challenge Program.

The Finn said: “Taka drove a really, really good rally. The final result was disappointing for him for sure, but what he did is really positive for the future. 

“To spend two days fighting with a driver like Dani Sordo for third place in Portugal is really valuable experience. 

"It was really equal between them and Taka was unlucky in the super special on Saturday evening, which changed things a lot because it was drying up and this took away most of the gap he had built up during the day.

“He seems really happy with the car on the gravel, which is very promising for the coming rallies, and he was able to drive fast without making mistakes. When you’re in a fight like this you need to push, but also be consistent. 

“Taka was able to do that, so I’m really happy about that. And after a difficult time in Croatia, it looks a lot more positive now going to Sardinia.”

Starts: Thursday, July 18, 2024 at 4:31:00 AM
Starts: Friday, July 26, 2024 at 7:00:00 AM
Starts: Saturday, July 27, 2024 at 6:00:00 AM