Toyota have chosen the most experienced driver in FIA World Rally Championship history, Jari-Matti Latvala, to replace outgoing Team Princiapl Tommi Mäkinen ahead of the 2021 season which begins next month.
Latvala drove for the Japanese manufacturer in the WRC from when they returned to the sport in 2017 until the end of 2019 – including earning the team’s first win with the Yaris WRC – and has been recruited with his vast rallying experience in mind by Toyota GAZOO Racing‘s board of directors.
He will begin his new job in January when Mäkinen moves to a new motorsport advisor role, and the 18-time WRC rally winner admitted he can’t wait to get going in his new position.
“I am really honoured to be taking on this position with the team, and by the trust that Akio Toyoda has shown in me,” said Latvala.
“I’m really excited to continue the work he started together with Tommi, having been a part of this team from the beginning as a driver.
“Now, as Team Principal, I have to see the bigger picture: I have to motivate everybody in the team to work together to achieve the best results. It’s a new challenge and I’m up for it.”
“Tommi has done a fantastic job with the team, building it up from zero and bringing the success that he has. Of course, there is always room for improvement and I want to use what I have learned over the years as a driver and work together with the team directors to make this team as successful as possible.”
Latvala drove for several manufacturers throughout his WRC career, and will again be reunited with long-time teammate Sebastien Ogier with the pair having been at Volkswagen during the Polo WRC‘s dominance in the sport between 2013-16.
Latvala’s first rally in charge of the team will be at next month’s Rallye Monte Carlo between January 14-17.
You can watch Latvala’s first interview following the announcement below: