Takamoto Katsuta

Takamoto Katsuta (勝田 貴元, Katsuta Takamoto, born 17 March 1993) is a Japanese rally driver. He currently rallies for the Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT in the World Rally Championship. He rose to prominence after taking a surprise victory in the WRC-2 class at the 2018 Rally Sweden.

Takamoto Katsuta
Takamoto Katsuta Rally Finland 2017 Saalahti.jpg
Takamoto Katsuta at second Saalahti stage at the 2017 Rally Finland.
Personal information
NationalityJapan Japanese
Born (1993-03-17) 17 March 1993 (age 27)
Nagoya, Japan
World Rally Championship record
Active years2016–present
Co-driverUnited Kingdom Daniel Barritt
TeamsToyota Gazoo Racing WRT
Rallies25
Championships0
Rally wins0
Podiums0
Stage wins0
Total points9
First rally2016 Rally Finland

Early careerEdit

Katsuta was born in Nagoya. He began karting at the age of 12.[1] following intermediate success in this category, he began racing in the Formula Challenge Japan series in 2010, and eventually became champion in 2011, aged 18.[2]

2012-2014: Years in Formula 3Edit

Seeing the successes Katsuta had in Formula Challenge Japan, the TOM'S team hired him to be one of their drivers for the Japanese Formula 3 Championship in 2012, racing in the National class.[3] He finished third in this category overall, and was eventually promoted to full championship driver for 2013. Katsuta experienced great success in 2013, winning two races and finishing second in the overall championship, beating drivers from the likes of Katsumasa Chiyo and future member of the McLaren Young Driver Programme, Nobuharu Matsushita. The following season, 2014, would be Katsuta's last in Formula 3. He ended up under-performing, finishing 4th in the standings with another two victories.

Taking an interest in rallyingEdit

During his final year of Japanese Formula 3, Katsuta began rallying at the local level. He began with a Toyota GT86 in the JN-5 class of the Japan Rally Championship (a series his father, Norihiko, has won eight times). In his second event, the Rally Highland Masters, Takamoto won his class, finishing 10th overall. His eventual goal was to be picked up by Toyota's development driver program.[1] His performances in Japan attracted the attention of four-time World Rally Champion and future Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT team boss Tommi Mäkinen, who signed him onto Toyota's program alongside Hiroki Arai.[2]

Rallying careerEdit

2015-2016: early years with MäkinenEdit

At the start of his campaign with Mäkinen and Toyota, Katsuta would participate in selected rallies while practicing full-time in Finland, under Mäkinen's supervision. Katsuta's first rallies with Tommi Mäkinen Racing were in local Finnish and Latvian events, driving a Subaru Impreza WRX. Beginning in 2016, Katsuta would be rallying with a very experienced co-driver, Daniel Barritt. Katsuta experienced intermediate success in local Finnish rallies, before being supplied with a Ford Fiesta R5 for the Rally Estonia, his first major long-distance rally in FIA-homologated 4-wheel drive machinery. This was also his first start in the European Rally Championship. He failed to finish the event after crashing in the second leg. Despite this, Mäkinen promoted Katsuta and Hiroki Arai to their first World Rally Championship start at Finland, rallying in the WRC-2 Class.[4] Katsuta would finish 12th in class, sixteen minutes behind the class winner.

2017: full-time WRC programEdit

Beginning in 2017, Katsuta would be participating in a full-season World Rally Championship program in the WRC-2 category, alongside Hiroki Arai. Katsuta would also be rallying in local rallies outside of Finland. He partnered Marko Salminen for this season. Successes for the two drivers were few and far between, but Katsuta would make a name for himself upon taking a class podium at the Rally Italia Sardegna.[5]

2018: victory and increased support from ToyotaEdit

After his breakout onto the international scene in 2017, Katsuta would begin to enjoy more successes in 2018. He began with a 3rd-place overall finish at the Arctic Lapland Rally, one of the biggest local rallies in Finland. Then at the Rally Sweden, after winning 10 of the 19 special stages, Katsuta won the World Rally Championship-2 class, finishing 11th overall.[6] He won by just 4.5 seconds from Škoda factory driver and then-reigning WRC-2 champion Pontus Tidemand.[1] After this surprise success, Katsuta and team-mate Hiroki Arai continued to rally in the European WRC events, albeit without reaching the level of success achieved at Sweden.

2019: World Rally Car debutEdit

Towards the end of the 2018 season, Toyota announced their intentions to eventually run Katsuta in a World Rally Car potentially by 2020. He spent 2019 competing in the WRC-2 class with Tommi Mäkinen Racing.[7] After two seasons with Elfyn Evans, Daniel Barritt returned to be Katsuta's co-driver.[8] Katsuta's first outing with a Toyota Yaris WRC was at the SM-Itäralli, a round of the Finnish championship, in which he would impress with a victory.

Career resultsEdit

Complete World Rally Championship ResultsEdit

Year Entrant Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Pos. Points
2016 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE MEX ARG POR ITA POL FIN
27
GER CHN
C
FRA ESP GBR AUS NC 0
2017 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE
22
MEX FRA ARG POR
36
ITA
14
POL FIN
Ret
GER ESP
51
GBR AUS NC 0
2018 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE
11
MEX FRA
35
ARG POR
26
ITA
Ret
FIN
Ret
GER TUR GBR ESP
24
AUS NC 0
2019 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON
13
SWE
Ret
MEX FRA
14
ARG
16
CHL
14
POR
21
ITA
Ret
25th 1
Ford Fiesta R5 Mk. II FIN
Ret
TUR GBR
14
AUS
C
Toyota Yaris WRC GER
10
ESP
39
2020 Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT Toyota Yaris WRC MON
7
SWE
9
MEX ARG POR ITA KEN FIN NZL TUR GER GBR JPN 9th* 8*

* Season still in progress.

Complete World Rally Championship-2 ResultsEdit

Year Entrant Car 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 12 13 14 Pos. Points
2016 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE MEX ARG POR ITA POL FIN
12
GER CHN
C
FRA ESP GBR AUS NC 0
2017 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE
9
MEX FRA ARG POR
14
ITA
3
POL FIN
Ret
GER ESP
14
GBR AUS 21st 17
2018 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE
1
MEX FRA
8
ARG POR
13
ITA
Ret
FIN
Ret
GER TUR GBR ESP
12
AUS 14th 29
2019 Tommi Mäkinen Racing Ford Fiesta R5 MON SWE
Ret
MEX FRA
4
ARG
5
CHL
1
POR
13
ITA
Ret
8th 47
Ford Fiesta R5 Mk. II FIN
Ret
GER TUR GBR ESP AUS
C

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b c Peacock, Anthony (22 February 2018). "Could Takamoto Katsuta become Japan's greatest ever rallying export?". Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  2. ^ a b "TAKAMOTO KATSUTA - DRIVER PROFILE". wrc.com. WRC Promoter GmbH. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  3. ^ "Takamoto Katsuta". Driver Database. Retrieved 30 December 2018.
  4. ^ "Rally Finland Entry List". ewrc-results.com. ewrc-results.com. 2 July 2016. Retrieved 3 July 2016.
  5. ^ "Kopecký cruises home". wrc.com. WRC. 11 June 2017. Retrieved 2 July 2017.
  6. ^ "66. Rally Sweden 2018". ewrc-results.com. 18 February 2018. Retrieved 18 February 2018.
  7. ^ Evans, David (28 June 2019). "Toyota gives protege Katsuta World Rally Championship debut". autosport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 28 June 2019.
  8. ^ Evans, David (19 December 2018). "Toyota reveals 2019 programme for WRC protege Takamoto Katsuta". autosport.com. Motorsport Network. Retrieved 30 December 2018.

External linksEdit