Wed 21 Feb 2024

Katsuta: I just need to be patient

Takamoto Katsuta was left ruing what could have been on Sunday afternoon, having crashed out of Rally Sweden on Saturday morning as he pressed for the lead.

The Toyota Gazoo Racing driver began Saturday morning in second overall, 3.2sec down on Hyundai Motorsport’s Esapekka Lappi. Katsuta was able to trim that lead to less than a second on the day’s first test but disaster struck on the next stage when his GR Yaris Rally1 became wedged in a snowbank as he continued to press.

The 30-year-old conceded that he needs to continue working on when to push and when to ease up as he seeks his maiden WRC victory.

“I just need to learn, this big chance when everything is working well and feels good, I just need to be patient and not to rush,” explained Katsuta. “It is a long weekend and I just need to find the spot where I definitely need to push and when I need to sacrifice the pace.”

Katsuta conceded however that picking the moments for when to push and when to power off is not always so simple.

“It is easy to say afterwards that I have to be patient but it is a very small thing. If you are too patient and start slowing down too much, you have no pace so now I need to find the sweet spot – this is important for the whole weekend.”

Close friend Ott Tänak has found himself in similar positions in the past to Katsuta, suffering his own heartbreak on the path to his breakthrough victory which eventually came in 2017 on his 73rd start. The current Hyundai driver felt it was the correct approach for Katsuta to keep pushing on Saturday morning.

“He still has probably a bit of patience missing,” opined Tänak, but continued: “Still, I wouldn’t say he didn’t have to push [on Saturday]. He definitely had to push because he was in a direct battle with EP (Lappi) and they were both going at a very similar pace so I would say it was definitely the right thing to keep pushing.

“Unfortunately, he just made a mistake. All these things, they are experience and he will use this in the future. You can only get better from that.”

Toyota Gazoo Racing team boss Jari-Matti Latvala sympathised with his driver, acknowledging the areas they still need to work on with Katsuta.

“I knew that his pace is enough, but I think he just got a little bit too excited about the situation because he was 2sec faster [than Lappi] on the first stage.

“This is what we need to learn with Taka in this situation – that when you are driving without pressure it’s easier as you have nothing to lose. But when you have to defend something, the position, and you have to run with the pressure you have to stay calm and cool. This is one of the biggest strengths of Kalle [Rovanperä]. We must work with Taka to maintain and learn from what happened here for the future.”

Regardless of Saturday’s result, Katsuta can rest assured that the unwavering support of his team remains.

“The most important thing is not to blame anybody. He needs to attack, he drove well, we need to see what we can learn from this.”

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