Katsuta key to another dream Safari score for TGR

Takamoto Katsuta produced another strong performance on Safari Rally Kenya with the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRC Challenge Program as he rounded out a 1-2-3-4 finish for TGR, coming close to a third successive podium on the legendary event.

Considered the most demanding event on the calendar, the Safari has been a strong rally for Katsuta since it returned to the WRC, with the Japanese driver scoring his first two series podiums in Kenya in 2021 and 2022. The event would once again live up to its reputation this year, with some rough and rocky sections and others consisting of soft sand, which could quickly turn into deep mud when it rained.

Katsuta’s preparations alongside co-driver Aaron Johnston took a hit when he rolled in Wednesday’s pre-event shakedown, but the team was able to repair the car ready for the start. Katsuta quickly put the incident behind him to set some strong stage times on the first full day of the rally on Friday. Despite sustaining damaged suspension in the morning and a puncture in the afternoon, he reached the end of the day in fifth overall.

Saturday was the longest and toughest day of the rally but Katsuta impressed, scoring a stage win in the afternoon’s Elmenteita to briefly move up into third position overall, in a battle with team-mate Elfyn Evans. The day’s final stage was hit by heavy rain and Katsuta was one of several to spin in the tricky conditions, but he went into Sunday just 16.7 seconds from the podium places.

Sunday also proved to be demanding and Katsuta would take another stage win in the penultimate test of the rally, Oserian, which was marked by deep sand and ruts. He finished up 25.3s behind Evans as he secured his best result of the season so far, while also completing a second successive 1-2-3-4 finish for TGR on the Safari.

Takamoto Katsuta:
“Many things happened to me this week and I need to say a big thanks to the team because they did a really amazing job to fix the car every time and I was able to finish the rally. My own result was not as good as I would have wanted, but it’s a great result for the team. It’s an incredible team effort from all the engineers and mechanics and designers: they have all done a great job and the car has been very strong here again in Kenya. I felt very good with the car and felt that I could push to fight for another podium on this event. Overall, it has been a very tough weekend but we made it to the finish and that’s the most important thing on this rally.”

Jari-Matti Latvala (Team Principal, TOYOTA GAZOO Racing WRT):“It is amazing that Taka has made three starts in Kenya and that his results have been second, third and fourth. That for me is pretty remarkable on such a demanding rally. We saw some action in this event from Taka and hopefully that can be turned into some podium finishes in the second half of the season. Mentally it’s not easy to have a big accident before the rally and to try to come back from that, but Taka bounced back really well and was getting stronger and stronger during the event. In that sense he did a great job. I also have to say thanks to the team and to Taka’s mechanics in particular as they had to repair the car a few times during the week. Without them and their dedicated work, it wouldn’t have been possible to keep Taka going and to achieve the amazing 1-2-3-4 finish for the team.”


  1. Sébastien Ogier/Vincent Landais (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)3h30m42.5s
  2. Kalle Rovanperä/Jonne Halttunen (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)+6.7s
  3. Elfyn Evans/Scott Martin (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)+2m58.5s
  4. Takamoto Katsuta/Aaron Johnston (Toyota GR YARIS Rally1 HYBRID)+3m23.8s
  5. Dani Sordo/Cándido Carrera (Hyundai i20 N Rally1 HYBRID)+5m05.4s
  6. Ott Tänak/Martin Järveoja (Ford Puma Rally1 HYBRID)+9m14.4s

What’s next?

Katsuta will rejoin the main TGR-WRT line-up for the fast gravel roads of Rally Estonia (July 20-23). The stages around Tartu combine wide and narrow sections and a soft and sandy surface that can become rutted for the second pass.