Toyota eyes three cars for 2017 return
Yaris WRC build to start 'very soon'
Toyota GAZOO Racing team principal Tommi Mäkinen spoke of his pride at retaining the workshops and design offices in 2016 at his premises in Puuppola, close to Jyväskylä which hosts Neste Oil Rally Finland.
"We're delighted to be running this project in a country where rallying is considered a national sport and a genuine source of pride. It's also an ideal place to develop our car, with many options for testing.
"However, we're looking at different options to accommodate a works team and its required facilities for 2017," explained Mäkinen, who said the squad would register under the Japanese flag when it re-enters WRC with a Yaris World Rally Car after a 17-year absence.
He has more than 40 staff and acknowledged several positions have yet to be filled as he races to build a team from scratch in a relatively short timeframe.
"We're looking for people who are ready to work hard on this project and join a team that works like a big family. We'll all work together, hand in hand. We're looking for people with strong characters and individual strengths, who at the same time are able to fit into the team.
"I understand this project may have seemed difficult to pull off given the relatively short amount of time we have to set it up. However, we've worked hard to build a structured, professional and responsive team.
"The efficiency of the people involved in the project has made it possible to stick to the initial schedule and meet our objectives. Obviously, there's a lot of work still to do but we're more than ready for that."
Mäkinen, who visited Japan last month to meet team chairman Akio Toyoda and other senior Toyota representatives, stressed his desire to match the manufacturer's 'lean and efficient operation'.
"I want to have the same conquest feeling as we had with our small Mitsubishi team. You don't need to have the biggest budget or team in order to win. The most important thing is relaxing and enjoying the experience, and sharing it with people who feel the same way."
Pictured above, left to right: Toyota Motorsport GmbH President Toshio Sato, Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen, Team Chairman Akio Toyoda and Team Vice President Koei Saga.