Mäkinen praises WRC 2
Multiple world champion Tommi Mäkinen believes rallying's solid class structure has helped Finnish youngsters Esapekka Lappi and Teemu Suninen to develop into two of the WRC's hottest talents.
Both men made the headlines for their stunning performances at last month's Neste Rally Finland. Lappi, 26, claimed his maiden WRC victory in only his fourth event driving Toyota's Yaris World Rally Car, while 23-year-old Suninen held second place until he made an error on the penultimate stage. He eventually finished fourth but impressed WRC talent spotters in only his second event at the controls of a 2017-spec Ford Fiesta.
Toyota Gazoo Racing team boss Mäkinen believes the lengthy spells that both drivers spent in the WRC 2 feeder category has helped their development greatly and given them the right platform to fine-tune their skills ahead of their jump into World Rally Car machinery.
"There is a big future for Esapekka and Teemu and that means the current rally car regulations are very good," Mäkinen said. "WRC 2 makes such a brilliant training platform for young drivers – I find it an absolutely brilliant formula and I hope they (the FIA) keep those regulations stable without too many changes. It's like Gp N was in the early days, but far better."
Mäkinen, a 24-time rally winner in the WRC, is the perfect man to oversee reigning WRC 2 champion Lappi's continued development at Toyota. But he's urged caution that his compatriot's win in Finland will immediately lead to other WRC successes before the end of the 2017.
"We saw his promise in Sardinia and Poland. The first time he was sitting in the car, I was pretty sure that he would make a big surprise in Finland," Mäkinen said. "I'm not sure if he'll be ready to win anywhere but winning in Finland means he has immediately jumped more than one or two steps higher."
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