TOYOTA GAZOO Racing is pleased to announce a 2019 activity for the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program, which supports young drivers competing in the tough global arena of rallying.
TOYOTA GAZOO Racing launched the Rally Challenge Program in 2015 and, in autumn 2018, the company selected Takamoto Katsuta as its driver, with the aim of enabling the program to take the next step to participate in the WRC. In 2019, Katsuta will intensify his training with the goal of becoming a Japanese WRC driver; he will accumulate experience by participating in a greater number of FIA WRC2 events at the wheel of the R5 rally car, while he is also scheduled to participate in the events of the Finnish Rally Championship in the Yaris WRC. Daniel Barritt will be Katsuta’s co-driver for 2019.
■Tommi Makinen（Program Supervisor）
Katsuta’s development has been very impressive during the three and a half year period that he has been with us. Now we are moving on to the next level with an extensive program in WRC2 as well as by taking the opportunity to get used to the WRC car in two Finnish Rally Championship events. The targets for 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, and step up to the level of a WRC professional. In Rally Monte Carlo his main target is to get comfortable with driving again after the break and also to restart his relationship with his co-driver, Daniel Barritt. They used to drive together at the beginning of the program, so they know each other but we will not put pressure on them in Monte. The collection of WRC2 championship points will start from Sweden, where Katsuta took his remarkable win last year.
I am extremely grateful to Marko Salminen, who has been my co-driver for two years. We battled through countless difficult times together, and I have been able to progress to where I am today because of him. From next season, I will once again pair up with Daniel Barritt, whom I drove with in 2016. Daniel has decided to take on the challenge of once again rallying alongside me, and I am excited to show him how much I have improved over the last two years. The Rally Challenge Program has been strengthened, and so an even more rigorous world awaits me. However, I am determined to push myself to the limits, and I am confident that I will be able to grow significantly. Next season will help me prepare for the future, and I will do my utmost to ensure that I compete in every rally to the best of my ability and use each event as a stepping stone to the next.
■2019 Schedule *The Schedule below is subject to change.
1) FIA World Rally Championship, WRC2（Vehicle：Ford Fiest R5）
|Rd.1||24-27 January||Rally Monte Carlo||Ice/Snow/Tarmac|
|Rd.2||14-17 February||Rally Sweden||Snow|
|Rd.4||28-31 March||Rally France||Tarmac|
|Rd.5||25-28 April||Rally Argentina||Gravel|
|Rd.6||9-12 May||Rally Chile||Gravel|
|Rd.7||30 May – 2 June||Rally Portugal||Gravel|
|Rd.8||13-16 June||Rally Italy||Gravel|
|Rd.9||1-4 August||Rally Finland||Gravel|
|Rd.10||22-25 August||Rally Germany||Tarmac|
|Rd.11||12-15 September||Rally Turkey||Gravel|
|Rd.12||3-6 October||Rally GB||Gravel|
|Rd.13||24-27 October||Rally Spain||Tarmac/Gravel|
2) Finnish Rally Championship (Vehicle: Yaris WRC)
|Rd.1||1-2 March||SM Itäralli||Snow|
|Rd.2||24-25 May||SM Riihimäki ralli||Gravel|
Supervisor: Tommi Mäkinen
Program Management: Kaj Lindström
Instructor: Jarkko Miettinen