World Rally Championship points leader Elfyn Evans says that the announcement that Toyota team principal Tommi Mäkinen would leave his current role at the end of the season “came as a bit of a shock” and stated he only found out about it after his victory on Rally Turkey.
Evans’s team-mate Sébastien Ogier also expressed great surprise at the news and regretted that he wouldn’t get chance to work with the four-time WRC champion for longer.
Speaking ahead of this weekend’s Rally Italy, points leader Evans said: “It came as a bit of a shock to be honest.
“I wasn’t aware until the end of Turkey that there were changes happening. It’s still not super clear what the changes will be inside the team, but we know that Tommi has moved on to a new role within Toyota.
“So, I definitely hope that whatever changes are made can continue to work in this nice environment.
“It’s sad in one way of course because Tommi’s always been there with his amount of experience and always there to offer advice.”
Like team-mate Evans, six-time World Rally Champion Ogier joined Toyota at the start of the year and remains confident that the team’s operations will be largely unaffected by Mäkinen’s departure.
“I think the whole team will continue to work as they have done in the past so it should really affect the everyday working environment of the team,” Ogier said.
“The year has been quite short in the end, so we haven’t really had a proper chance to work that closely together.
“Up till now, everything has worked well between us and stability is always better, and I would rather… I would rather he stayed.
“In fact, it came as a bit of a surprise, well… I expected it at some point this type of decision, but I didn’t really expect it this soon.
“It was enjoyable to work alongside him, and that’s a bit [emotional] that that will come to an end.”