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Thu 25 Apr 2024

Taka aims for podium redemption in Portugal

Takamoto Katsuta is determined to clinch a podium result at Vodafone Rally de Portugal next month (9 – 12 May), seeking redemption after narrowly missing out on a top-three finish in the past.

The Japanese driver came agonisingly close to securing third place in Matosinhos two years ago. Despite entering the Wolf Power Stage 2.2sec ahead of Hyundai rival Dani Sordo, Katsuta slipped to fourth after losing ground to the Spaniard in the final kilometres.

In 2023, Katsuta’s hopes for Portuguese glory were dashed when his GR Yaris Rally1 car developed an alternator fault after SS2. He had been sitting fourth at the time.

“For sure, my target is to get on the podium in Portugal,” Katsuta told WRC.com. “Two years ago I didn’t get the podium, I was fourth and I just lost out to Dani so I need the revenge!”

Katsuta secured a fifth-place finish at Croatia Rally last week but, more importantly, garnered an additional seven championship points by being the fastest driver on Super Sunday. He acknowledged the need for a change in approach to avoid losing time at the start of events.

“In terms of my speed at each rally, some stages are very good but then the final result is not very good because of my mistakes or losing a lot of time at the beginning, like in this rally (Croatia),” he said.

“I just need to be more committed from the very beginning of the rally, then continue like that. I knew that Croatia would be a very tricky event, so I was just a bit too careful in my approach at the beginning. Everybody is pushing on the limit, and over the limit, but I was not on that level on Friday.”

Katsuta won’t score manufacturers’ championship points at Vodafone Rally de Portugal but will form part of a formidable four-strong Toyota entry alongside Kalle Rovanperä, Sébastien Ogier and Elfyn Evans.