Takamoto Katsuta admitted he must raise his game after crashing twice in a torrid Rally Italia Sardegna.
Katsuta, part of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s young driver development programme, tipped his Yaris onto its side on Friday morning’s second pass of Erula – Tula, regarded as the rally’s most difficult speed test.
The Japanese driver returned to open the road on Saturday and Sunday but exited again after a huge roll in the first run through Sassari – Argentiera.
The accidents came after a roll on his previous appearance at Rally Estonia when on course for a career-best fifth place and Katsuta vowed to learn from his mistakes.
“This is a hard time for me but I hope that it will make me stronger,” he said. “The car is so fast and the level of the other drivers is so high so I need to improve many things, such as my pace-notes and my concentration. I will try to do my best to improve.”
Explaining Friday’s accident, he said: “There was a narrow and tricky part, I was slightly off-line in a left-hand corner so I was on the loose gravel and couldn’t stop the car for the next tight-right corner, and we went wide into the ditch.
“On Sunday in a very narrow section I went slightly wide and hit the bank on the outside. On the next left-hander there was a rock or something on the inside that we hit, and after that the car rolled,” he added.
The 27-year-old pointed to the positives of opening the road. “It was my first experience of that on a rally like this. It was very slippery and I had no lines to follow, but it was a good learning experience for me for the future,” he said.
Jarkko Miettinen, Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WRC Challenge Program instructor, acknowledged Katsuta still had plenty to learn about driving on roads like those in Sardinia after good pace in Sweden, where he finished ninth, and Estonia.
“Both of these events are high speed rallies on good roads. We expected Sardinia to be more difficult for Taka and expectations were lower when it came to pure speed here,” explained Miettinen.
“The aim was to learn more about the Yaris WRC on these slow and rough roads and partly this target was accomplished as Taka completed most of the stages.
“After two incidents, the only thing we can take home is that there is still a lot to learn on slow and narrow gravel roads and also in following the set target all the way to finish line of the last stage.”