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Toyota with WRC comeback: Mäkinen becomes team boss

Toyota WRC-Comeback 2017
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D he message came from above. Tommi Mäkinen is now in charge of the Toyota works team for the World Rally Championship, at the express request of the President. The former world champion and four-time Monte Carlo winner Mäkinen is to create the framework conditions at the motorsport subsidiary TMG in Cologne that are necessary for a successful return to the World Rally Championship.

Since 2011 from the previous one TMG President Yoshiaki Kinoshita, there is a technical director Pascal Vasselon and the Italian Emanuele Battisti a chief designer, but the structures from a technology department, which is clearly separated from other projects to team management, are missing a year and a half before the Yaris WRC's World Cup debut.

Mäkinen should do it now. The 51-year-old Finn has plenty of experience in the administrative area. After finishing his active career in November 2003, he founded the company Tommi Mäkinen Racing in his home town of Puuppola near Jyväskylä, which initially prepared customer cars for the near-series production car world championship, but after a short time also received development contracts for the further development of the Impreza WRX.

Toyoda and Mäkinen have known each other since summer 2013, when the Toyota boss took rally driving lessons from the four-time world champion. He had had a GT86 built for him with all-wheel drive and turbo engine, the technology came from the Subaru. But Toyoda was not primarily impressed by the skills of the 'Tomminator' as a technician or driving instructor, but rather by his further ideas about success in rallying and vehicle construction. 'In the beginning he was my driving instructor, in the end I learned a lot more,' says Toyoda Rosen and comes out as a Mäkinen fan: 'I want to work with him. I believe that we can build better cars with his help.'

Toyoda is a big rally fan and was the driving force behind the return to rallying in Japan. So far, the head of the world's largest car company has always emphasized that he actually doesn't have much to say, but now he is clearly taking the reins. He not only makes Mäkinen the WRC team boss in Cologne, but also presides over the company Gazoo Racing, Toyota's name for various racing operations.

Mäkinen already at the Toyota rally headquarters in Cologne

Mäkinen, after the French Sébastien Loeb, the most successful rally driver in history, is said to have seen the situation some time ago during a visit to Cologne and was allegedlylittle happy about what was found. So far TMG does not even have its own test team, so the services of the small team Motorsport Italia are used. You have to borrow engineers from the sports car project, where Vasselon's team has enough to do to work up the backlog of the hybrid prototype on Audi and Porsche in the WEC.

The development of a GT86 rally car according to R3 regulations is paralyzed and the delivery of the one-make cup cars has already had to be postponed twice. In addition, there has been a lack of budget so far, which is why Toyota has not even attempted to recruit top drivers from the World Cup, and instead, with the Frenchman Eric Camili and the Finn Teemu Suninen, is relying on talented but inexperienced youngsters.

Mäkinen enters weighty legacy. Before the rally withdrawal at the end of 1999, the team founded by the Swede Ove Andersson had won three manufacturers 'world championships and four drivers' titles. Before the end of rally activities, which was decided in favor of Formula 1 entry in 2001, the Cologne-based Corolla WRC resigned as reigning champions.

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