Takamoto Katsuta to start Safari Rally Kenya despite shakedown crash

Takamoto Katsuta to start Safari Rally Kenya despite shakedown crash

Toyota’s Takamoto Katsuta is anticipated to start Safari Rally Kenya on Thursday despite suffering a stunning roll during shakedown at the highly demanding World Rally Championship event.

The GR Yaris that the two-time Safari Rally podium finisher was driving rolled on his third shakedown run, ripping the rear wing and damaging the right rear of the car.

After an FIA assessment determined the GR Yaris’ roll cage hadn’t been damaged during the crash, the car was taken to the Naivasha service facility where Toyota immediately began work on fixing it.

“We did three runs and on the third run there is a small jump into the braking for the hairpin right and there was small bump on the entry to the corner,” said Katsuta. “I was braking into this bump and straight away the car started to roll.

“To be honest I was quite surprised because the first two runs nothing really happened, but on the third run it did.

“I’m very sorry for the team. It was looking really bad but nowadays the car is full of carbon panels.

“It looks really bad, but actually the damage wasn’t too bad and the roll cage is okay. The FIA checked it and it was all okay.

“I’m sorry for the team by making them busy but I will try to give them back a positive result.”

The car is scheduled to head to Nairobi, Kenya’s capital, to take part in the first super special stage.

Katsuta was not the only driver facing issues during the shakedown; Hyundai’s Esapekka Lappi, who is taking part in his debut Safari Rally, was unable to record a time due to two mechanical breakdowns.

The Finn had to turn around on his maiden run due to a prop shaft failure. Hyundai made an effort to fix the issue at a remote service before Lappi stopped on his second run with a problem that is thought to be similar. In advance of Thursday’s ceremonial start and Kasarani super special, Hyundai will have time to look into the issue.

The shakedown was dominated by last year’s champion and championship leader Kalle Rovanpera, who finished 1.5 seconds ahead of Ott Tanak of M-Sport-Ford on the 5.40km stage.

Eight-time world champion Sebastien Ogier outpaced leading Hyundai driver Thierry Neuville by 2.4 seconds to finish third for Toyota.

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