Four-time world drivers’ champion Tommi Mäkinen admitted the joy of winning his first WRC round as a team boss was greater than anything he experienced during his driving career.
Mäkinen led the celebrations in the victorious Toyota Gazoo Racing team following Jari-Matti Latvala’s surprise win at Rally Sweden yesterday in a Yaris World Rally Car.
It was the first time the Japanese manufacturer has appeared on the WRC winners’ list since the China Rally in 1999. It came on only Toyota’s second event since returning from a 17-year absence from the sport.
“I cannot find the words for how proud I am. It was such brilliant work from our team during the whole weekend. This is completely different from winning as a driver. It’s even better,” Mäkinen told wrc.com.
Many pundits believed Toyota would be the weakest of the four manufacturer teams, but Mäkinen shrugged off the criticism during the car’s development and promised there was more to come.
“We knew quite a few people were thinking at the end of last year that we cannot be where we are now. We knew our potential but, of course, we had absolutely no knowledge of the others. That made it a little bit difficult to go forward and we were waiting for the rallies.
“Now it is far more easy. After Monte we could not analyse so well the overall package because of the extreme conditions. It is more like a drivers’ rally, this was a performance rally and we could immediately see the great points.
“We have quite a few things in our pocket to make ourselves a bit stronger in Mexico. We noticed some areas which we can do better with our car - driveability, suspension, engine, behaviour.
“There are many little details. Of course, they are not such big details but we know we still have quite a lot to do,” he added.