Toyota Motor Corporation president Akio Toyoda has thanked outgoing Toyota Gazoo Racing team principal Tommi Mäkinen for his work in building a world-beating Yaris.
Under Mäkinen’s guidance, the Yaris won on its second outing in 2017, helped the Japanese firm to its first manufacturers’ championship since 1999 and then clinched back-to-back drivers’ titles with Ott Tanak last season and Sébastien Ogier in 2020.
Toyota’s return to the WRC was facilitated by the strength of relationship between Toyoda and Mäkinen. The four-time world championship-winning Finn now steps aside from his four-year stay as TGR’s team principal to work as Toyota’s Motorsport Advisor.
Talking about ACI Rally Monza earlier this month, Akio Toyoda said: “This was the last rally for Tommi as the team principal.
“I am very grateful to work with him. When we decided to go back to the WRC, I asked him to help develop a car and to build a team. To be honest, I was thinking that my request was a bit too much of a challenge.
“But he did it with only a year of preparation and the team already came in second place in its debut round and won the next round in Sweden. We experienced many difficulties after that, but every single experience had meaning and made our cars stronger.”
As well as the sporting success, Akio Toyoda admitted Mäkinen helped deliver personal highlights.
“It is,” said Toyoda, “one of my best memories that we climbed up the roof of Yaris WRC together when we won Rally Finland in 2018.”