Mäkinen: Not 100% fair if Estonia and Ypres join WRC

Toyota boss thinks Hyundai's Tänak and Neuville would have advantage on home rallies


Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Mäkinen has told DirtFish of his concerns at the potential for Hyundai drivers Ott Tänak and Thierry Neuville enjoying a home advantage if Ypres Rally joins Rally Estonia on the World Rally Championship calendar for the remainder of the 2020 season.

The potential for Belgium’s maiden WRC counter is dependent on Rally Turkey moving its date one week forward in September, to ease the logistics of going from the Marmaris gravel to the European asphalt.

Tänak won last year’s Rally Estonia – a WRC Promotion event contested by all manufacturer teams – and Neuville has competed on the Ypres Rally six times, winning it in an i20 R5 two years ago.

A disgruntled Mäkinen said he would prefer to see a completely new rally in Croatia included to ensure nobody enjoys a home advantage.

“Croatia is an event nobody has ever done and it would seem far more fair to do this one,” Mäkinen told DirtFish.

“For example, we have Rally Estonia which is already one driver’s home event where nobody else has the same experience. If Ypres comes then that is two rallies which are directly Hyundai drivers’ home territory.

“I’m not 100% sure this is fair to the others.

“From what I am told, Croatia, they don’t mind what is the date – they can do at any time. I didn’t go there myself before, but I am told there is a lot of rally fans there and it could be a really nice rally and an interesting challenge.”

Ott Tanak (EST)

Credit: Jaanus Ree / Red Bull Content Pool

Croatia has long held ambitions of hosting an asphalt round of the WRC and it remains – along with Ypres – one of the possible substitute events for 2020.

Mäkinen concluded: “I am not absolutely satisfied with these new rallies, but OK if it’s the only possibility then that’s all [we can do].”

A decision on Rally Turkey’s future was expected this week and sources maintain a definitive word is close.

Including Ypres would mean six events (Estonia, Turkey, Ypres, Sardinia, Germany and Japan) in 11 weeks. Privately, series officials are accepting of the fact that they might lose one or two of those events due to the ongoing coronavirus pandemic.

Japan is the latest country thought to be in jeopardy, following news of a spike in COVID cases. October’s Japanese Grand Prix was cancelled in June.

Further coronavirus complications are arising with different countries implementing different quarantine policies. For example, some nations have no quarantine regulations on visitors returning from Turkey, but others are implementing a 14-day lockdown period which could compromise travel to ongoing events.