Mäkinen heads up Toyota WRC programme
Finnish legend named as team principal
The four-time world champion was yesterday confirmed as team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing’s WRC squad, but the Japanese manufacturer’s statement made no reference to the role of German-based Toyota Motorsport GmbH (TMG).
In January, TMG, which is owned by Toyota, announced a return to WRC ‘with a car developed and built entirely at its Cologne technical centre’.
Since then test drivers including Sebastian Lindholm and Stéphane Sarrazin have been developing a Yaris World Rally Car, and TMG has signed development drivers Eric Camilli and Teemu Suninen with an eye to the future.
But wrc.com has been told that while TMG will remain as a technical partner for the programme, Mäkinen will take on full responsibility for developing the 2017 contender and could build his own car from new.
Whatever route he chooses, the 51-year-old four-time world champion plans to be hands-on by playing a key role in testing.
“Even though we will need to have a proper test driver, I think it will be good if I drive too. There are some ideas that I have which might be able to help and in any case it is good to get inputs and opinions from as many people as possible,” he said.
Mäkinen is keen to press on with his new role which he acknowledged would be a major step up from his previous experience of team management.
“We have a huge amount of work between now and 2017 to test the car in every circumstance - snow, gravel, high altitude, low altitude. We will need to test everywhere in the world.
“Since I stopped driving I have had my own team – Tommi Mäkinen Racing – which has been preparing Group N cars for quite a while. So I have experience of running a team, but of course the challenge is bigger this time and there is a lot more responsibility and things to do,” he added.