Rally Legend Makinen to Lead Toyota’s 2017 WRC Return
Toyota is looking to Finnish rally legend Tommi Mäkinen to lead them to victory in the 2017 World Rally Championship. Are we likely to see something special come out of this formidable partnership?
Four-time World Rally champion Tommi Mäkinen has been announced as the team principal for Toyota’s return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017. Finnish-born Mäkinen will lead the newly-established Toyota Gazoo Racing team, with Toyota boss Akio Toyoda, a motorsports enthusiast himself, serving as team chairman.
Having won consecutive World Rally titles with Mitsubishi between 1996 and 1999, Mäkinen is more than qualified for the role and Toyota obviously believe he will be a huge asset in their search for rally victory. In fact, his accomplishments were immortalised in the Tommi Mäkinen edition of the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI – a firm favourite among both car and rally enthusiasts alike.
Mäkinen was also involved with the development of Toyota’s GR86X, a bespoke rally version of the GT86 driven by Toyota chairman Akio Toyoda. He even gave the Toyota boss tips on how to get the very most out of the car and enjoy driving it.
Toyota’s 2017 rally ambitions will centre around a new Yaris-based car, which boasts a 1.6-litre turbocharged engine and has been being put through its paces in Europe on a testing level already this year.
While Mäkinen won’t be piloting the Yaris, he will undoubtedly be involved with the car’s development and be on-hand to offer his wealth of experience to the rest of the team.
In a press release from Toyota, Akio Toyoda said: “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.”
He added: “Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us.”
Toyota’s return to the WRC will help them “make ever-better cars,” according to their chairman and Mäkinen will no doubt play a huge part in that.
Will we see a Tommi Mäkinen edition Toyota Yaris in several years time? Only time will tell…
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