Four-time world rally champion Tommi Mäkinen will leave his position as team manager of Toyota Gazoo Racing, which is competing in the FIA World Rally Championship, at the end of the 2020 season.
Toyota announced today (Tuesday 22 September) that Mäkinen will switch roles within the company and will become an advisor in the Japanese car manufacture’s motorsport department early next year.
Toyota Gazoo Racing returned to the WRC for the 2017 season under the leadership of Mäkinen. The Toyota Yaris WRC cars are currently developed at Puuppola in Finland where Mäkinen also uses as headquarters to his own company, the Tommi Mäkinen Racing Oy.
The cars quickly showed potential and in the 2018 season the team led by Mäkinen won the Manufacturers’ world championship title and last season, Ott Tänak won the drivers’ championship at the wheel of a Toyota.
The operation of Toyota’s WRC team will be transferred from the company of the four-time world champion to Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe, who will be responsible for Toyota’s WRC program although the operation will still remain in both Finland and Estonia.
“The goal of the Toyota WRC-project was to re-start the world rallying operation effectively with the flexible organization which only a small company can achieve.” Mäkinen said on the nes.
“I am happy to say that this goal has now been reached and it is time for me to move on to new challenges with Toyota. I want to thank Akio Toyoda for trusting me with this project and supporting us all the way to reach the goals we set together. I am looking forward to continue the work with him, designing the future of Toyota in motorsports.”
“We are happy that as planned Toyota now decided to acquire the WRC-operations we have built together and I am also very happy of the way Toyota provides our experts with a steady home and future as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team. It is also important to me that operations will still stay in Jyväskylä and Tallinn, while the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe takes the team under its wing.”
“It was only after I met Tommi that I was able to decide on Toyota’s return to the WRC. It is because of his support that we are able to win at the WRC. And by leveraging his expertise, we were able to create the GR Yaris, a 4WD sports car.” Akio Toyoda, President of Toyota Motor Corporation, added.
“Going forward, he will be our motorsports advisor. In addition to providing expert advice on how to win races, as he has been doing, we expect him to provide a broad range of advice so that Toyota can produce ever-better cars.”
“Even after the appointment of this role, the fact that he will continue to be my driving instructor will not change.”
Toyota Gazoo Racing is currently leading both the Teams’ and Drivers’ championships in the WRC with Elfyn Evans leading by 18 points over team-mate Sébastien Ogier after last week’s Rally Turkey.