Tommi Mäkinen leads Toyota GAZOO Racing’s WRC Return in 2017
Toyota GAZOO Racing announced that legendary rally driver and four-time world rally champion Tommi Mäkinen will be the team principal of its WRC team after Toyota’s return to WRC in 2017. Toyota’s President Akio Toyoda will serve as the team chairman.
Toyota officially confirmed its return to the World Rally Championship a few months ago with the presentation of the new Yaris WRC racing car. The new team will be run by Toyota Motorsport’s staff from the company’s headquarters in Koln, Germany.
The new car has already clocked in many testing kilometres but there is still plenty of time of time to convert Yaris WRC to a racing machine that can compete alongside actual WRC cars. The testing drivers for Toyota are two Frenchmen: Stephane Sarrazin and Eric Camilli and former Finnish champion Sebastian Lindholm.
One more Finnish legend has been added to the team – Tommi Mäkinen (51). He is the one of the most successful drivers inWRC history, with four world titles spanning over his 18-year WRC career.
Interestingly, Mäkinen has never driven for Toyota before in the World Rally Championship. He has been a champion with Mitsubishi and that he was driving for Lancia, Ford, Mazda, Nissan and ended his career with Subaru.
Here’s the statement of Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota and Team Chairman of WRC team:
Whenever I’m behind the wheel, I always think: “It is the road that makes the car. For Toyota, to make ever-better cars, we have to get a feel for all the kinds of roads that are out there. Rallying requires us to drive on the very roads our customers use every single day, and I believe it is the perfect training activity, ultimately helping us to strengthen our products.
As the pinnacle of rallying, WRC is the best way to experience roads all over the world—that’s why Toyota is returning to the championship. And I am very happy and excited to have Tommi Mäkinen heading up our WRC team. I first met Tommi in 2013. At that time he was my instructor, helping me improve my driving technique. In the end, he taught me a lot more; he showed me the appeal of rallying and the relationship between vehicle development and rallying.”
“Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us. After talking to Tommi, I felt: “I want to work with him; I want him to help us make better cars,” and that’s how I came to ask for his support with this project. With Tommi behind us, Toyota will forge ahead with our return to WRC and also our efforts to make ever-better cars.”
“Rallying allows both participants and spectators to feel the enjoyment of cars, and it encourages car manufacturers to hone their skills. We have been away from WRC for a long time as a manufacturer. I have huge respect for the manufacturers, drivers, team members, and fans that make this wonderful competition what it is, and I’m thrilled to bring Toyota back to WRC. Please join me in supporting Toyota GAZOO Racing.”