Sat 23 Jul 2022

Katsuta relieved to end Estonia jinx

Prior to last weekend, Takamoto Katsuta’s record in Estonia wasn’t the best: he had started four and retired from four.

Round seven of this year’s FIA World Rally Championship allowed the Japanese star to put that right.

At his fifth attempt, the Toyota Gazoo Racing Next Generation driver finished a relieved fifth. That result came after a third roll on Estonian soil, but this time crashing at the pre-event shakedown didn’t impact on his result.

“It’s nice to make it!” he smiled. “I was worried on Thursday after the crash. It was a small mistake and I was straight away wondering if we could fix the car and make it to the start – the team did a fantastic job to get the car fixed and it was perfect.

“This is not an easy rally and this year was more difficult than last time because the bushes and the trees had grown a little bit – it felt like the roads were more narrow.

“The pace notes had to be completely perfect, especially with some of the big blocks at the side of the road It would have been very easy to take a wheel off against them.”

Katsuta admitted it took time to settle into a rhythm after his shakedown shunt.

“I was quite cautious,” he added. “When the rain was coming and the grip was changing, it was not so nice to drive. Then we were having some ruts and I wasn’t quite as committed [after the shakedown crash].

“I wanted to push and I wanted to get a good result but at the beginning I was struggling a lot in the car and the feeling was not so well. I had to accept what I should do this weekend and we have done that. If you are taking care even a small amount, then no chance.

“At the end of the weekend, especially Sunday, I had quite a good feeling with the car. Of course, I was still missing some pace compared to Kalle, Elfyn and EP [team-mates Rovanperä, Evans and Esapekka Lappi], but I am quite happy about the weekend.”

Katsuta has finished every round this season inside the top eight, the only driver to do so apart from his championship-leading team-mate Kalle Rovanperä. He lies fifth in the standings.

Video: Rally Estonia close calls
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