Rally driving Tommi Mäkinen got enough of traveling, but his career continues at Toyota – now he is interested in how the inventions of rally cars could be transferred to mass production

Tommi Mäkinen will move next year, Toyota’s motor sport adviser half. He says he will leave the rally stable in good spirits and remain a creditor of the Japanese. “I don’t even have the will to think otherwise,” Mäkinen says in an interview with HS.

Tommi Mäkinen is the clear reason why he will resign at the end of the year as head of the Japanese Toyota Rally Stable:

“I’ve traveled quite enough in my life. Now is a good time to bounce off, ”says the four-time world rally champion.

Undoubtedly, the biggest rally news of the fall was when Toyota announced a change of team manager. In January Mäkinen will be Toyota’s motor sport adviser half.

The Japanese have not yet told the name of the new team manager, and Mäkinen has no information about that either. Or if there is, he won’t tell.

“I don’t know the successor yet. I can’t take a stand on who it is and what a new organization is like. But if Kaitsu is not leading the race, there will be difficulties. The protection must be close. He knows the rules and knows how they go, ”says Mäkinen.

By protection, he means the current sports director of the team Kaj Lindström, who once also sat as Mäkinen ‘s map reader.

There is no ambiguity about Toyota’s drivers for next season, on the other hand. The current trio Sébastien Ogier, Elfyn Evans and Kalle Rovanperä continue.

“I’m not sure if Ogier’s deal is complete, but it has been discussed,” Mäkinen says.

In the second year in a row, the Frenchman Ogier announced that he would end his career at the end of 2020 at the Finnish World Rally Championship.

“I think next year will be pretty much back to normal.”

Tommi Mäkinen celebrated Ott Tänak’s victory in the Jyväskylä World Rally Championship in July 2018. The following year, Tänak drove Toyota to become world champion. Next to Mäkinen on the left is Toyota Sports Director Kaj Lindström.­

Coronary pandemic as a result, the World Rally Championship contract shrank to a stump season of six races. It also turned Ogier’s head. The six-time world champion didn’t want to end this way.

According to information received on Thursday, the seventh World Rally Championship of the year will be tried to run in December in Monza, Italy.

If you don’t drive in Monza, the Welsh Evans will win the World Rider Championship at Toyota. Hyundai would win the manufacturers ’World Cup title for the second time in a row by seven points to Toyota.

When Mäkinen finishes as a team manager, the team has already won what he has to do under his leadership. Estonian Ott Tänak won the World Riders Championship at Toyota last season. Toyota won the Manufacturers ’Championship in its second season, in 2018.

According to Mäkinen, the championships should also be divided this year, even though there have been only half of the competitions planned.

“The superiority survives this way too, although the value of the championship may not be quite the same as in the full World Series. This year, however, more than 2,000 miles have been raced. It’s a long way to go. ”

Mäkinen praises the 2021 rally calendar for the same breath. However, early-year races may be canceled due to the corona. No one knows.

“I think next year will be pretty much back to normal. That is my prediction. The situation is not easy for anyone, but the calendar must have a base. Otherwise, nothing will come. The second thing then is how it can be implemented, ”Mäkinen thinks.

“For me, this is the ideal tomorrow.”

In October 2016, Tommi Mäkinen presented a new Toyota rally car to HS in Puuppola. At the same time, he was careful that the car could only be photographed from the side.­

Next At the beginning of the year, the factory garage will have new premises in Jyskä, Jyväskylä. The premises at Mäkinen’s domicile in Puuppola focus on the operations and production of the Tommi Mäkinen Racing private stable.

The office built in Tallinn will remain Toyota’s operational service center, where cars will leave for the World Rally Championships and return from them.

Car design and development work is done in Jyskä. “Operations will continue to be managed from the end of Finland,” Mäkinen assures.

Mäkinen says that he has been looking for new premises in the vicinity of Jyväskylä and also in the Helsinki metropolitan area for a long time. However, a suitable place was not found in time. Therefore, car maintenance and testing was transferred to Tallinn.

“We had a big team wondering how the project would go. The facts led to the cars being taken to Tallinn, which is admittedly a little cheaper to build, and where there are cheaper labor costs. We would not have had to go anywhere if we had acquired the same new premises in our time as we do now in Jyväskylä. ”

“The whole thing is starting to be good now.”

The Toyota Gazoo Racing team, led by Tommi Mäkinen, launched a new car and drivers Jari-Matti Latvala and Juho Hänninen at Finlandia Hall on 13 December 2016.­

The team manager tasks Mäkinen says he leaves with a bright mind. The stable is in good condition competitively and financially.

The question whether a new work of Toyota’s motorsport advisor side of a promotion or discount, he does not give ready answers.

“Hehee, I can’t comment on which one it is. For me, this is the ideal tomorrow. I’ll get away for a while. The project is built and is in good shape. The whole is starting to be good now, ”says Mäkinen.

When Mäkinen stays on Toyota’s payroll, he can’t at least start a competing rally project during that time.

“I have a direct agreement with Japan. I can’t work for anyone other than Toyota, and there’s no need for that. Toyota is a good partner. I’ve been working with my life in Japan. I don’t even have the will to think otherwise. ”

In particular, Mäkinen says that he is interested in the product development of cars and how it can be applied to mass production.

Over time, many of the reforms developed for motorsport will end up being used by the average motorist.

“I can’t say what to do next in practice. The intention was to go to Japan in the fall to talk about it, but it has not been possible to go there. Then, when I get there, I know more. ”

“Now one era is kind of over, but not completely.”

Tommi Mäkinen has always been on good terms with the Japanese. Toyota CEO Akio Toyoda congratulated Jari-Matti Latvala on the third place in the 2018 World Rally Championship in Finland.­

Hilly admits that the task of the team manager has been a tough construction site. Behind the scenes, Mäkki has been criticized for having found it difficult to manage the stable’s personal chemistry.

“The whole thing is challenging. But when professionals are made to work with each other, the end result is certainly good and everyone listens. The whole needs a broad vision. It has succeeded quite well, also in personal chemistry, ”says Mäkinen.

“It has been my job to follow the whole thing closely. We need to know where we are going and steer it in the right direction. I’ve taken a stand, when I feel the rally world as well. For most people, it has been much more difficult. ”

In the future, Mäkinen also intends to focus more on agriculture, his beloved hobby. As a young man, Mäkinen won the Finnish Championship in plowing, so he also has strong evidence in that field.

“I have sat in many places behind the wheel. Now one era is kind of over, but not completely. ”


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