Tue 16 Aug 2022

Cagey Katsuta mindful of Ypres memories

Toyota Gazoo Racing driver Takamoto Katsuta admits he is not feeling confident for this week’s Ypres Rally Belgium (18 - 21) after crashing out of the event last year.

While the GR Yaris Rally1 star has enjoyed a consistent season with top-six results at seven out of eight rallies so far, he struggled for confidence at Secto Rally Finland earlier this month and expects more of the same in Belgium. 

Katsuta retired from sixth overall last year when he and stand-in co-driver Keaton Williams were caught out by a high-speed compression on the Dikkebus stage which pitched their Yaris into a spectacular roll. 

While the crew emerged unscathed, the memories remain at the back of the Japanese driver’s mind and he is wary of this week’s asphalt fixture - despite coming from a circuit racing background. 

“Ypres is going to be a very big challenge for everybody,” he admitted. “It’s a tricky rally, not an easy one. But for me, I think especially for myself because of the big crash last year. 

“So far, I don’t feel so well on the Tarmac – it’s not the car. I think the car is working well, but it’s just my confidence.

“It is strange because I came from the circuits - but like I say, so far I’m not so confident. It’s not just the driving, it’s the pace notes and some other things. It’s small things.”

Toyota’s WRC Challenge Programme instructor Juho Hänninen, who mentors the 29-year-old, believes there are a number of positives for Katsuta to carry from Finland into Belgium.

“In Finland, Taka was struggling a bit on Saturday afternoon with the confidence and he had the spin at the end of the day, but I don’t think that affected the final result too much,” Hanninen said. 

“There were quite a lot of setup changes during the rally and the change that was made for Sunday was positive for him and he was really happy with that. As a team we have learned a lot with the car and about what helps Taka to get the best performance from it,” he added.

Toyota fields four cars this week, with Katsuta joining championship leader Kalle Rovanperä as well as Elfyn Evans and Esapekka Lappi. 

  • Full coverage from Ypres Rally Belgium will be available on WRC+ All Live here, including every stage broadcast as it happens as well as key interviews, features and expert analysis from the service park.
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