Takamoto Katsuta has been moved to the main Toyota Gazoo Racing team as part of an otherwise unchanged line-up for the 2023 World Rally Championship season.
Katsuta has been part of Toyota’s WRC Challenge program with the Japanese competing under the Toyota Gazoo Racing Next Generation banner in a factory Yaris. After a strong and consistent year which involved three podiums and a top-five championship finish, Katsuta will now be alternating drives with Sebastien Ogier as he undertakes another part-time campaign in 2023.
Ogier hasn’t confirmed the rounds at which he will appear, however at the rounds he does, Katsuta will be driving an identical Yaris outside of the team so won’t be eligible to score manufacturers’ points. Katsuta’s promotion also means that Esapekka Lappi will no longer be part of the Toyota squad despite scoring three podiums in seven events.
Elfyn Evans and 2022 Drivers’ Champion, Kalle Rovanpera return for 2023 with the team.
Team Principal, Jari-Matti Latvala commented: “It’s very nice to welcome Takamoto into our main line-up to share a car with Sébastien while also still gaining the experience of a full season,” continuing: “We believe the time is right for him to make this step: In 2022 he was the WRC’s most consistent scorer so we are confident he can bring good points for the team.”
Talking about the targets for next season, he said: “As a team we have enjoyed an extremely good season in 2022. To win all three titles for the third year in a row will be a big challenge but that is certainly our target next season, and we need to keep working together to achieve it.”