Mäkinen sidelined as Toyota takes control of WRC program

Toyota Europe takes over for 2021, with Mäkinen replaced as team boss


Tommi Mäkinen’s time in charge of Toyota’s World Rally Championship program will come to an end following this season.

The Japanese manufacturer announced on Tuesday that its WRC effort will be run by Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe GmbH, the Cologne-based operation which controls the firm’s endurance racing program.

The WRC team will still run a split base, with research and development remaining in Jyväskylä and the build and re-preparation of cars coming out of Tallinn. Both sites have been acquired by Toyota.

Four time world champion Mäkinen will move to a motorsport advisor role at Toyota Motor Corporation from January next year.

Mäkinen said his work was done with the team.

“The goal of the Toyota WRC-project was to restart the world rallying operation effectively with the flexible organization which only a small company can achieve,” said the Finn.

“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 [TMC president] 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 Toyota Gazoo Racing Europe takes the team under its wing.”

Toyoda paid tribute to Mäkinen’s input into Toyota’s return to rallying’s highest level.

“It was only after I met Tommi that I was able to decide on Toyota’s return to the WRC,” he said.

“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.

“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.

“Tommi, let’s drive together again!”

Mäkinen’s success with Toyota has been phenomenal. Under his guidance Jari-Matti Latvala guided the Yaris WRC to a debut podium in Monte Carlo 2017 and victory on the car’s second outing in Sweden a fortnight later. Toyota’s first manufacturers’ title since 1999 arrived in 2018 and the driver’s championship was delivered with Ott Tänak last season.

Toyota currently leads the makes race and drivers Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier are one-two in the driver standings.