One of the main reasons behind Toyota's successful return to the World Rally Championship (WRC) is its team principal – WRC legend Tommi Makinen. The four-time world champion has been Toyota Gazoo Racing WRC's leader since 2017; leading the team to a constructor's championship in 2018 and then the driver's and co-driver's world championship titles in 2019.
At the end of 2020, however, Makinen will be stepping down as team principal. Instead, he will help develop the automaker's future sports cars and plan future motorsport activities.
According to the official announcement by Toyota, starting January 2021, Makinen's job title will be “Motorsport Advisor to Toyota Motor Corporation”. Part of the job includes “the development of motorsports-bred GR vehicles, strategic planning of motorsport activities, and driver talent development”.
It was not mentioned which specific GR models Makinen will oversee. However, it's safe to assume it will be all of them. So you can expect him to give inputs on models like the upcoming GR Super Sport hypercar to ensure it performs well both on and off the track. Subsequently, he could also oversee future developments of the GR Supra. Heck, we might even see a GR Yaris Tommi Makinen Edition just like the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution 6 TME.
“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. Going forward, he will be our motorsports advisor 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,” said Akio Toyoda, president of Toyota.
Whatever vehicle Makinen does give input on, we're sure that it will be good. We're excited about Toyota's upcoming high-performance models, are you? Here's to hoping they arrive in the Philippine market.