MOTORSPORT NEWS Rally

KATSUTA EARNS WRC DRIVE

TOYOTA GAZOO RACING RALLY CHALLENGE PROGRAM DRIVER TAKAMOTO KATSUTA WILL MAKE HIS WORLD RALLY CHAMPIONSHIP DEBUT IN A YARIS WRC AT ADAC RALLYE DEUTSCHLAND.Katsuta’s progress over the last two seasons has been rewarded with two high-profile Yaris outings in the second half of 2019.

Takamoto KatsutaFollowing his maiden German outing, the Japanese driver will tackle October’s RallyRACC Catalunya -Rally de Espana in the Toyota.

Beyond a second career WRC2 win at Copec Rally Chile, Katsuta impressed with a pair of Finnish Rally Championship victories – on SM Itäralli and Riihimäk-Ralli – in a Yaris WRC. Toyota GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program supervisor Tommi Mäkinen has been fulsome in his praise of the 26-year-old.

“Takamoto has made some big steps already this year,” said Mäkinen.

“In his WRC2 program, he has shown very good progress with his driving and his consistency. He also handled his first rallies in the Yaris WRC in the Finnish championship very well.

“Because of this, we are sure that he is ready to make the next step up already. We waited to finalise his programme for the end of the season, to see how he was progressing, and it is great that we can already add these two events in a World Rally Car in the world championship.”

The Finn admitted Germany and Spain would be difficult events, adding: “We know that these will be very challenging rallies – Takamoto has no experience of competing in Germany, and Spain is tough as it’s a mixed-surface event. So we are not setting any targets in terms of results. The main priority will be for him to continue learning and to develop his driving.”

Delighted with the news, Takamoto said his World Rally Car debut at the sport’s highest level represented the next step on his journey.

“First of all,” he said, “I would like to thank everyone who has supported me. Since I switched to rallying four years ago, I have worked hard to be World Rally Champion in the future. There have been so many things, not only good, but also frustrating. Now, I can move one big step forward with support from many people around me.

“However, this is not my end goal. I just stand on the start line. I have gained valuable experience step-by-step in a Yaris WRC. I will develop myself consistently, rally-by-rally, to fight in the top category in near future. To make my dream come true, I still have so much to do. But I am sure I can make it. Thank you in advance for your strong support.”

Katsuta will continue to be co-driven by experienced Brit Dan Barritt.