Katsuta’s main rival was Finn Jari Huttunen, who was competing in a Hyundai i20 WRC for the first time.
Huttunen, 25, scored a single fastest time on SS5, which was enough to give him the lead for one test. From there, Katsuta guided the Toyota home to a troublefree 12sec win over his rival.
Katsuta told wrc.com: “This was the first time I competed in this car on the gravel, so it was a very nice experience for me.
“I am quite happy with the performance I made and it was good to have Huttunen there – this was a good comparison. I know I still need to improve, but I also know I couldn’t make a mistake on this rally. I had to make sure I was at the finish.”
Changeable weather on the fast Finnish roads which sit between Helsinki and Tampere made for an exciting ride.
“The grip was changing a lot because of the rain,” said Katsuta, a graduate of last year’s Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge Program. “It was difficult to know how was the road in some of the stages, but the car felt very good and it was feeling quite easy to drive.”
Both drivers flew directly from Finland to Portugal, where they will start this week’s WRC qualifier at Vodafone Rally de Portugal. Katsuta arrives in Matosinhos on the back of his second career WRC 2 victory at Copec Rally Chile earlier this month.