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Interview with Toyota's Katsuhisa Idie: Our ultimate goal is to win with our car and our employees' team

Shahid Salman
ANALYST
Exclusive
914   //    28 May 2018, 16:41 IST

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The Toyota Liva in action - INRC South India Rally 2018

An exclusive interview with Mr. Katsuhisa Idie, the managing coordinator of product development and design at Toyota Kirloskar Motors (TKM) India, who is also a co-driver in team THUMS, the Toyota Rally team in the INRC.

Toyota has been a very successful manufacturer in the World Rally Championship over the years with three World Rally Championship titles to date.

Toyota's Rally Debut India

The Toyota Gazoo World Rally team made their WRC debut in 2017. In the same year, the Toyota Liva rally car from THUMS (Toyota India) made their Indian National Rally Championship debut at the Coffee Day India Rally.

The team consisted of two drivers and two co-drivers who were making their rally debut as well.

The story of Toyota in India is quite astonishing. We have always heard of bosses hunting for the best drivers and crew members in order to compete in the Rally Championships, but the Toyota bosses decided to take things into their own hands.

The line up had the bosses themselves along with their top engineers in the R&D department.

Team1   Driver Umesh Malashetti / Co-Driver K A Somaiah

Team2   Driver Akito Tachibana / Co-Driver Katsuhisa Idei

Malashetti is the vehicle evaluation engineer and Somaiah is chassis design engineer in TKM, and they are into research and development of new cars for Indian customers, while Tachibana is the Managing Director of TKM.

Enter captio
Team THUMS (L-R) K.A Somaiah, Umesh Malashetti, Akito Tachibana and Katsuhisa Idei

About team THUMS

Toyota has created a family of virtual reality models called THUMS or “Total Human Model for Safety”, to help us better understand the effect of an impact on the human body and develop more advanced and effective equipment features to keep safe from harm. We give this name to our team keeping safety as our priority.

Number of Rally starts

We have participated in two rallies in the past, Chikmagalur in 2017 and Chennai in 2018. We have plans to participate in three more rallies this season, they are Coimbatore, Bangalore, and Chikmagalur.

What’s the meaning of your name Katsuhisa Idei?

It is common Japanese name and it means to keep winning anytime.

How long have you been in India? What in India do you love the most?

I have lived in India from January 2015, so it is 3 years and 5 months now. I have fully enjoyed life in India because there are so many unique cultures, historical monuments, and such beautiful places. I have visited all over India and had a good time.

What are your plans for the current season as a team?

Our priority is not only securing good positions but also finishing all the rallies safely. It is our time to learn a lot about rallying in detail. However we hope to win with our car and our employees' team, it is our ultimate goal in future.

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Team THUMS Liva - Coffee Day India Rally 2017.

Your most memorable rally and the reason behind it?

I have participated in two Rallies. My most memorable rally is my very first rally, the Coffee Day India Rally, Chikmagalur. I highly appreciate the FMSCI, the organizers and Arka Motorsports who've given us this opportunity and great support for participation. It was quite a memory!

Tell us about your teammate, Mr. Akito Tachibana

He is the Managing Director of Toyota Kirloskar Motors, and he also loves car and motorsports and I guess that's what makes us a great team.

Your favorite driver of all times and why?

My favorite driver is Juha Kankkunen, he drove a Toyota Celica ST-185 and went on to win the World Rally Championship title and the Manufacturers World Championship for Toyota.

You are a very busy person, how do you strike a balance between work and rallying?

Rally activity is a part of work, it is human resources development in our company.

Our purpose is as follows:

1. To understand actual road and usage condition to make better cars for India.

2. To learn driving skill especially for more safety drive to reduce fatal accident.

3. To make Motorsports more popular in India and to let everyone know driving is fun.

The Toyota Etios cup was a very successful program for budding drivers in the Indian Circuit racing, Does Toyota have any such plans for the Indian Rallying?

We have to learn it ourselves now so we don’t have any such plans, however, we would like to find an opportunity to help Indian drivers develop.

India has some wonderful cross-country rallies like the Desert Storm and Raid the Himalaya while Toyota has the machines to conquer these natural terrains, do you have any plans of competing in them?

We are also very interested in the cross-country rallies, we always look for a chance to participate in these rallies.

Which one is your personal favorite – The Toyota WRC, Toyota WEC, or the Toyota Hilux Dakar, and why?

My favorite is the Toyota Yaris WRC, it is more familiar to race on the same roads and the same type of road car which we use in our daily life. It can very helpful when it comes to developing the new cars for better performance and quality.  

What do you want to tell young drivers in India and what they can expect from Toyota as a manufacturer in the coming years?

We will keep competing to bring the joy of driving to everyone, also contribute to making motorsports popular in India.

We will make an effort to give an opportunity to enjoy motorsports and develop cars which are easily accessible for motorsport to everyone.

Topics you might be interested in:
Shahid Salman
ANALYST
Motorsport journalist who races and rallies | Winner Raid the Himalaya, Dakshin Dare and National Rallies | Formula1 Fanatic
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