Toyota won’t use team orders in Sardinia

Tommi Mäkinen is against the use of tactics as a means to an end for the titles


When a team principal tells you he’s going to talk to his drivers, it usually means just one thing: the end of a fight. Not this time. Toyota’s Tommi Mäkinen will speak to Elfyn Evans and Sébastien Ogier (and, no doubt, Kalle Rovanperä), but he’s keen to avoid any mention of team orders.

Four-time world champion Mäkinen is famously against dictating the results of rallies by the use of tactics – as his forthright views on Ott Tänak’s approach to saving his tires on the final morning in Turkey highlighted.

And Mäkinen’s keen not to be telling anybody to slow down in Sardinia this week. Or is he?

Evans starts Rally Italy 18 points ahead of team-mate Ogier, with Hyundai’s Tänak – the nearest non-Toyota driver in the race – joint third with Rovanperä, both 27 down on the Welshman.

Answering the biggest question in the run up to the penultimate round of the series, Mäkinen told DirtFish: “I need to speak with both drivers. [In Turkey] I don’t see any possibility of team orders. On that rally you cannot even think about team orders – there’s no room for these at all. And most probably in Sardinia there’s no possibility.

“Elfyn has the worst place to start and the second worst is Seb and you never know what can happen.”



Toyota boss thinks Evans' lead is good for rallying

Asked if he would implement team orders if Evans’ gap remained the same ahead of the season finale in Ypres, Mäkinen said: “You know I’m not big in favour of those things.”

The Finn’s thoughts were countered by the desire for him to depart as team principal on the back of returning the manufacturers’ title to Japan.

“The most important for us is the manufacturer title,” he said. “Of course, we cannot risk having cars fighting and then something happens – we have to keep looking.”

One thing is sure, Mäkinen’s own news of his departure from the squad won’t impact on the team’s approach for the remainder of the season.

“We are putting maximum effort for the rest of the season,” he said. “This does not disturb anything all. Our people and the drivers are all very, very motivated for the competition and the end of the year. There will be no impact on rest of the year.”

Mäkinen will depart his role following the final round of the season, joining Toyota Motor Corporation as a motorsport advisor.