Toyota to boost Katsuta’s experience
Toyota has confirmed a ‘massive programme’ of testing for rising Japanese rally star Takamoto Katsuta.
The 25-year-old and his countryman Hiroki Arai have been part of the Toyota Gazoo Racing Rally Challenge Programme for the last two years – but only Katsuta will move forward to the next level phase of the scheme.
Katsuta, who took his maiden WRC2 win on Rally Sweden this season, will continue to drive at that level, using a Ford Fiesta R5 (Toyota doesn’t have an R5 car), but as well as that he has been linked to outings in a Yaris WRC.
He tested a Yaris WRC for the first time after Rally Finland in the summer.
TGR team principal Tommi Makinen confirmed his plan for Katsuta to MN, saying: “We have a plan to give him some testing in a World Rally Car. I would like to see if we can organise him a massive programme from the beginning of the season and organise a test drive for him in [the Yaris] WRC. We would like to see him behind the wheel.”
The original plan was for Katsuta to run a fourth Yaris WRC at Rally Japan, but when the Honshu-based event failed to make the 2019 calendar, the team was forced into a rethink.
“It would have been good to have had him in the car in Japan,” said Makinen. “It would have been a good story. Now we want to coach him, give him lots of support and advice then we look again at what’s going on.”