Toyota Gazoo Racing is on a roll right now. After its victory at the 2020 24 Hours of Le Mans, along with the unveiling of the Toyota GR Super Sport hypercar, Toyota Gazoo Racing just announced the appointment of Tommi Mäkinen. He will be part of the Japanese automaker with the job title “Motorsport Advisor to Toyota Motor Corporation” from January 2021.
Tommi Mäkinen is famous for his World Rally Championship (WRC) record. From 1996 to 1999, he won on all four seasons and he then became famous for his stint with Mitsubishi’s Ralliart division driving the Lancer Evolution VI WRC car. In 2000, Mitsubishi then created the special edition Lancer Evolution VI Tommi Mäkinen Edition to commemorate his victory. This limited edition Lancer Evolution is still highly sought after to this day among car enthusiasts. He then retired in 2003 and formed his company called Tommi Mäkinen Racing Oy Ltd, which prepares rally cars and provides support to aspiring rally drivers.
Behind the appointment is Tommi Mäkinen’s impressive contribution to the supercharged re-ignition of Toyota’s World Rally operations from 2017. Tommi Mäkinen and his team of professionals at Tommi Mäkinen Racing Oy helped Toyota to develop a highly competitive rally car and also built the team, Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team (TGR WRT), to run it at the highest level of world rallying, the FIA World Rally Championship. Already in 2018, the second year after their return, Toyota earned the manufacturers’ world championship title, and in 2019 they won the drivers’ and co-drivers’ world championship titles.
“I am happy to say that this goal has now been reached and it is time for me to move on to new challenges with Toyota,” says Mäkinen. “I want to thank Akio Toyoda for trusting me with this project and supporting us all the way to reach the goals we set together. I am looking forward to continue the work with him, designing the future of Toyota in motorsports.”
Tommi Mäkinen won’t just be heading the Japanese automaker’s motorsports division though. His technical expertise will also be implemented in the development of motorsports-bred GR cars and sports cars. He will also be involved in the strategic planning of motorsport activities and driver talent development. Appointing him as a motorsport advisor of Toyota Motor Corporation, the brand is looking forward to his advice on strategy formulation and organizational operations.
“It was only after I met Tommi that I was able to decide on Toyota’s return to the WRC,” says Toyota President Akio Toyoda. “It is because of his support that we are able to win at the WRC. And by leveraging his expertise, we were able to create the GR Yaris, a 4WD sports car.”
He further adds, “In addition to providing expert advice on how to win races, as he has been doing, we expect him to provide a broad range of advice so that Toyota can produce ever-better cars. Even after the appointment of this role, the fact that he will continue to be my driving instructor will not change.”