Rally legend Tommi Mäkinen will lead Toyota Gazoo Racing’s World Rally Championship team when it begins competition in 2017, the automaker announced today. Mäkinen was announced as team principal, which will race a Yaris-based car, for the WRC team.
Toyota boss Akio Toyoda, who will be the team’s chairman, said the 51-year-old Mäkinen was an ideal fit for the team.
“Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us. With Tommi behind us, Toyota will forge ahead with our return to the WRC and also our efforts to make ever better cars,” Toyoda said in a statement.
Mäkinen is widely known for his success piloting a Mitsubishi Evolution to four consecutive world championships in the 1990s. Mäkinen moved to Subaru in 2002 and retired from the sport in 2003.
His four world titles is second on the all-time championship list behind Sebastian Loeb and tied with Juha Kankkunen — who won one of his world championships driving a Toyota in 1993. Mäkinen’s 18-year rally career also includes 24 wins.
Toyota has not raced in WRC competition since 1999.