Katsuta has displayed blistering pace across the tricky asphalt stages at his home event, winning seven of the 16 tests to date.

The Japanese driver’s pace would have put him firmly in the victory battle had he not damaged his GR Yaris’ radiator after colliding with trees in stage two on Friday.

Katsuta was fastest on the splits in that stage before he hit a patch of standing water that also sent Hyundai’s Dani Sordo and M-Sport’s Adrien Fourmaux off the road and into retirement.

Katsuta quickly bounced back from the disappointment to win three stages on Friday before going on to claim four of Saturday’s eight stages, climbing from ninth to sixth overall.

“He has had really good speed - I know there is potential and I think now he is really getting all of that potential, which also gives me encouragement looking towards 2024,” Latvala told Autosport.

“If he can maintain similar work that he has done in the second half of the season, I think he could be in a position to fight for podiums for almost every rally. I think that is the next step that needs to be taken.”

Photo by: McKlein / Motorsport Images

Takamoto Katsuta, Aaron Johnston, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT NG Toyota GR Yaris Rally1

At times this season Katsuta has struggled for confidence driving the GR Yaris, with third in Finland his only podium this year.

Reflecting on his stage-winning streak, Katsuta admitted that this is the happiest he has been in the car this year.

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“Of course, the car is working well in any conditions and on any stages and I have been enjoying it a lot,” Katsuta told Autosport.

“To be honest, I am pushing but there is not so much risk, of course there is risk but not a crazy risk. I was very comfortable and enjoying the driving.

“After yesterday, my mind has changed and I have been just focusing on doing my best but, in the back of my head, there is disappointment, but now I just have to forget it and bring home a good result for the team.”

Katsuta’s performance has also impressed his two-time world champion team-mate Kalle Rovanpera.

“He has done a great job and it is so nice to see him do good times,” Rovanpera told Autosport.

“I think he is showing what he is capable of this weekend. He has done it in all weather, in the rain yesterday and in the dry, he is doing really well.”

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