Wed 09 Aug 2023

Taka: Co-drive with Kalle contributed to Finland podium

Takamoto Katsuta admits his Secto Rally Finland podium came partly thanks to the collaborative efforts of his Toyota Gazoo Racing team-mate Kalle Rovanperä.

While Rovanperä, the defending WRC champion and current championship leader, crashed out of contention on Friday afternoon, his influence was still keenly felt aboard the GR Yaris of Katsuta and co-driver Aaron Johnston.


Katsuta, who finished a lowly seventh overall at the previous round in Estonia, spent time with colleague Rovanperä at Toyota Gazoo Racing’s pre-Finland test. The lessons he learned from sitting beside the 22-year-old Finn translated into an impressive trio of stage wins and. P3 finish.


“As you know, in Estonia, I had a very bad rally there,” Katsuta said. “I had no speed at all. Then, after that, the team was analysing very much and giving me a lot of things to improve, and we did really hard work to improve for that.


“At the same time, I was in with Kalle for the test. I was in the car, Kalle was driving and I was sitting next to him. He was showing me how to drive and giving me a lot of tips, and this was helping me a lot to understand more how to really drive.

“After Estonia I was almost losing my confidence and everything, so a huge thanks to Kalle but also all the engineers who were analysing where I was losing time in Estonia. Of course, the road is different, but it's a high-speed rally and it’s very important to analyse what you are doing wrong, and these things helped me.”


Making Katsuta’s podium even more special was the fact that Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda took up the reins as team principal while regular chief Jari-Matti Latvala drove a 2022-specification GR Yaris Rally1 to fifth place.


“It’s a big, big thing for me and for the team, and for Akio-san,” he admitted. “I am really happy that we are on the podium in front of Akio-san with the huge support from him, my family and all of the Finnish supporters also. A huge thanks to them.”

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