Motorsport Ireland co-driver Aaron Johnston has described his podium finish on last weekend’s Rally Japan as a "dream come true".
The Tyrone co-driver Aaron Johnston equalled his career-best result by taking third place alongside his driver Takamoto Katsuta in their Toyota Gazoo Racing - Next Generation Yaris Rally1.
“It is a dream come true to be finishing the season in Japan on the podium. I really can't believe it. This was the target we were building up to this all year. To get here and achieve it is very very special, and to get a Japanese driver in a Japanese car on the podium in Japa, it is it's incredible for not only Toyota and Taka but also for the sport,” said Johnston.
The return of Rally Japan to the WRC calendar for the first time since 2010 was highly challenging for teams, drivers, and co-drivers, with an entirely new event, held on demanding and twisting asphalt roads in the mountains of the Aichi and Gifu prefectures.
“The support we have got here from the team members that we have never really met before and also you know the local fans that don't travel to any of the other events, it has been incredible and we have been treated like superstars from the minute we arrived so for me it has been very special,” he added.
He is already looking forward to next year and the season opener in Monte Carlo in January.
“I'm very proud of what we have achieved this weekend and hopefully we can use that now and bring the momentum forward to 2023 where hopefully we can continue to fight even more consistently for podiums every weekend,” he added.
“We were feeling good and confident, we're in the best car with the best team in the best people around us so the season is over now but already all focus IS on Monte Carlo IN two months’ time. I can't wait to start off the year from scratch again and hopefully achieve more than what we did this year.
This was Johnston’s first full season alongside Katsuta and the crew finished fifth in the final World Rally Championship standings.
“'I am extremely happy and definitely would have taken that with open arms at the start of the year. It has been a brilliant season for us. Thanks to everyone at home for the support and my sponsors, everybody behind me. It really means a lot, so looking forward to next season and we will do our best.”