Mon 06 Feb 2023

Taka: I know there is pressure

Takamoto Katsuta goes into this week’s Rally Sweden (9 - 12 February) carrying an extra weight on his young shoulders.

The Umeå-based event is the Japanese driver’s first ever FIA World Rally Championship round where he will be registered to score points for Toyota Gazoo Racing. Previously, Katsuta, a product of Toyota’s WRC Challenge Program, has scored for the manufacturer’s junior team.

Katsuta, 29, contested last weekend’s Kuopio Rally in Finland in preparation for the championship’s second round. He was running second overall behind Esapekka Lappi before retiring with radiator damage caused by a collision with a snowbank.

“I know there is pressure,” Katsuta of his Sweden outing. “There is always pressure in this job, but it will be a bit more with the manufacturer points. The team, the engineers, everybody is not giving me any pressure, they are just telling me I can do my job like normal.

“For sure it will be challenging, but I will try to manage it and bring home some good points for the team. I am just going to do my best - exactly like I was doing when I was in the fourth car.”

That’s very much team principal Jari-Matti Latvala’s approach. The Finn added: “Taka doesn’t need to do anything different to what he did in Monte-Carlo last month. That’s enough.

“His approach in Monte Carlo was sensible – it’s that wat that he can build the confidence and then see if we can go faster.”

Asked what the expectation of Katsuta was in terms of a result and bringing points to the team, should one of his more celebrated team-mates Kalle Rovanperä or Elfyn Evans drop down the order – Latvala said: “We don’t expect so much – we want to keep the pressure as low as possible. He needs to keep the car in the middle of the road and bring the car home in the top six.”

  • Full coverage from Rally Sweden 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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