Kat­suta ready for fuller WRC at­tack

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Ja­pan’s hopes of land­ing a first World Rally Cham­pi­onship win­ner in 27 years have taken a step for­ward with news that Takamoto Kat­suta will con­test all-but one round of this year’s WRC.

The 25-year-old Toy­ota Ga­zoo Rac­ing Rally Chal­lenge Pro­gram driver will re­main in a Ford Fi­esta R5 for all WRC rounds ex­cept the sea­son-clos­ing Rally Aus­tralia. In ad­di­tion, he will com­pete on two Fin­nish Rally Cham­pi­onship rounds – the SM Itaralli (snow, March) and SM Ri­ihi­maki ralli (gravel, May) – in a Toy­ota Yaris WRC.

Bri­ton Dan Bar­ritt will re­turn to Toy­ota Ga­zoo to co-driver Kat­suta. The pair last worked to­gether in 2016.

Kat­suta said: “The Rally Chal­lenge Pro­gram has been strength­ened, and so an even more rig­or­ous world awaits me. I am de­ter­mined to push my­self to the limit, and I am con­fi­dent that I will be able to grow sig­nif­i­cantly.”

Pro­gramme su­per­vi­sor Tommi Maki­nen said he had been im­pressed with Kat­suta over the last three years, adding that his fo­cus is now on the step up to a World Rally Car. Maki­nen said: “The tar­gets for the com­ing sea­son are for Kat­suta to un­der­stand the im­por­tance of con­sis­tency and bal­anced work in long WRC events, build con­fi­dence, learn to deal with the pres­sure.”

Ken­jiro Shi­nozuka was the last Ja­panese driver to win a WRC round, when he took back-to-back wins at the Ivory Coast Rally with Mit­subishi in 1991-92.

Kat­suta turned heads with his 2018 R5 per­for­mances

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