News and notes catchup

  • The TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Rally Challenge Program takes another significant step in 2020, with Japanese driver Takamoto Katsuta set to drive a Toyota Yaris WRC on eight FIA World Rally Championship events.

    Katsuta began 2019 by contesting seven WRC rounds in with an R5-specification car – winning the WRC2 class on Rally Chile – alongside two victories from his two initial starts in the Yaris WRC in the Finnish championship. Given the strong progress shown, his programme for the second half of the season was revised accordingly, and he stepped up to the top category of the WRC with a Yaris WRC for Rallye Deutschland and Rally de España. This represented a significant achievement for the program, which set out to develop a Japanese WRC driver.

    With Katsuta having met his objectives by gaining crucial experience and demonstrating improvement through both events, another milestone is set to follow. Next season he will tackle an expanded schedule at rallying’s top level, starting all seven European rallies as well as his home event, Rally Japan. He will continue to be guided by experienced co-driver Dan Barritt.


    The Italian company will supply tyres for the headline World Rally Car (Rally1) class and the R5 (Rally2) class, including the WRC 2 and WRC 3 support championships.

    Pirelli’s appointment was approved by an FIA World Motor Sport Council e-vote this week and will close a long era of domination by Michelin.

    Pirelli has a long WRC history, amassing 181 wins and 25 world titles with some of the most successful teams and drivers in the sport. After a break in 2017, the Italian firm returned in 2018 and is already the exclusive tyre supplier for the Junior World Rally Championship.

    Its last season as exclusive supplier was 2010, when its rubber carried Sébastien Loeb and Citroën to world titles.


    The Finn tested the British-built machine for the second time earlier this week and emerged happy with the developments and positive about the car’s potential. Grönholm drove the Iriz for two days in Northern Ireland, in a test split between asphalt and gravel.

    “It was a good feeling with this car,” he said. “Straight away, I felt comfortable. There were no surprises, it wasn’t understeering or oversteering too much. OK, maybe there’s some things to do in the shock absorbers, but this is just fine-tuning.

  • Subaru Australia has announced it will not compete in the 2020 Australian Rally Championship.

    After four years of participation under the Subaru do Motorsport banner, the brand has curtailed its domestic rally program while it refocuses its performance car marketing in other areas for the foreseeable future.

    The team distinguished itself with a win in the 2016 Championship that made history with driver Molly Taylor becoming the youngest ever (at the time) and first female champion.

    The 2016-18 seasons were conducted in partnership with Les Walkden Rallying, while Orange Motorsport was the provider in 2019.

  • Jason Bargwanna will make a return to the driver’s seat in 2020, steering a Peugeot 308 in the TCR Australia Series.

    The winner of the Bathurst 1000 in 2000, Bargwanna will drive the turbo-charged French car that was recently delivered to Australia for the final round of the 2019 series at The Bend Motorsport Park.

    The car will be prepared and run by Garry Rogers Motorsport Customer Racing, the team that also fields the factory-supported Renault Meganes and two Alfa Romeo Giuliette Veloces.

  • Stand-out Formula Ford ace Zac Soutar will enter the 2020 TCR Australia Series after securing a Honda Civic Type R.

    The 22-year-old Victorian and his family-run Team Soutar Motorsport squad has purchased the ex-Tony D’Alberto Civic that scored pole position in the opening round of the 2019 season at Sydney Motorsport Park.

    Soutar has spent the past three season competing in Australian Formula Ford, finishing second this year in his privately-entered Mygale.

  • Multiple Polish rally championship-winning team, Rallytechnology has confirmed its participation in the Projekt E electric series in 2020.

    The internationally-renowned rally team has committed to a full participation with a two-car entry, starting with the first race at the iconic Spa-Francorchamps in Belgium on May 16-17.

    Projekt E is a collaboration between IMG and Austrian company STARD (Stohl Advanced Research and Development).

  • The Norwegian team, Holten Motorsport AS, are the first to announce their commitment to Projekt E and will enter the inaugural 2020 electric series with a Ford Fiesta-based Projekt E race car.

    Projekt E is a collaboration between STARD (Stohl Advanced Research and Development) and IMG, the promoter of the FIA World Rallycross Championship and will feature as a support series at select European rounds of the world championship weekend.

    As the progression to electrification in motorsport gathers momentum, Holten Motorsport AS were keen to be among the first to make that move.

    Holten Motorsport Project Manager Nils Reimers, who also represents his own technology investment company, Ing Nils Reimers AS (INR) a majority owner of the Holten Motorsport main partner Tomax, said: “This move to Projekt E will push us in the right direction for EV technology development.