Mäkinen hails Monte result

Tommi Mäkinen believes his Toyota Gazoo Racing team’s Rallye Monte-Carlo performance was the best since its WRC return 12 months ago.

Team principal Mäkinen praised a superb debut from new signing Ott Tänak, who finished second in a Yaris World Rally Car. Jari-Matti Latvala joined the Estonian on the podium in third.

Only a costly final stage mistake from Esapekka Lappi denied the Finnish squad a 2-3-4 finish. Lappi eventually came home seventh and Toyota are tied on points at the top of the manufacturer’s standings with defending champions M-Sport Ford World Rally Team.

“It was the strongest result for our team because we weren’t at home,” said Mäkinen, who last year oversaw victories for Latvala in Sweden and Lappi in Finland.

“We were at home last year in Finland and, of course, it was a very, very strong result. But now we are away and it tells a little bit about the level of the drivers. Except for the last stage mistake from Esapekka, in very tough conditions there were no mistakes.”

Mäkinen was taken aback by Tänak’s performance in one of the toughest Rallye Monte-Carlos for many years after so little time at the wheel of the Yaris.

Ott Tänak - impressive debut for Toyota

“I was very, very, very surprised. He’s really concentrating on doing his job and there are no other dramas. I spoke with his race engineer and he was absolutely satisfied to work with him. He said Ott is so easy to co-operate with, so it’s really looking good.”

“Big thanks to the whole team. They have given massive support for him to be part of the team quickly. You have to know the car pretty well and he did only four days of testing in these conditions. He learned the car so quickly,” he added.

Mäkinen thinks the strength in depth will enable Toyota to fight for both titles.

“We can be very confident that we can keep fighting for the titles. Jari-Matti and Ott are in good positions to fight for the drivers’ title, but also because now all three drivers are able to drive for the podium, it makes the manufacturers’ title a possibility.”

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