Late last year, key representatives of the Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Championship (WRC) team met at Fuji Speedway, Japan, to discuss their current progress and future prospects. With production of the team’s competition vehicle, the Yaris WRC, about to start, Team Chairman Akio Toyoda, Team Principal Tommi Mäkinen, Team Vice President Koei Saga, and Toyota Motorsport GmbH President Toshio Sato reaffirmed their shared goals and strengthened their commitment to making the project a success.
“When developing a rally car, it’s absolutely essential to remember to take the characteristics of the roads into account. You can’t just build a car on paper. Learning that lesson will really help us make ever-better cars, and it’s an area where we can learn a lot from Tommi. He’s practicing that philosophy every day,” said Toyoda, expressing his high hopes for the project under Mäkinen’s guidance.
Toyota GAZOO Racing’s appointment of Mäkinen as team principal, announced in July, is based on a strong belief in his ability to form a solid, experienced team and to provide a winning car. Alongside Toyoda, Mäkinen is leading the works team that will represent Toyota in WRC. He is currently putting together a team to lead this project, and has surrounded himself with a strong group of experienced, enthusiastic professionals who are working relentlessly to make a success of this new challenge. At this point, Mäkinen Racing has more than 40 dedicated team members working 24/7.
“I understand that this project may have seemed difficult to pull off given the relatively short amount of time we have to set it up. However, we have worked hard to build a structured, professional and responsive team. The efficiency of the people involved in the project has made it possible to stick to the initial schedule and meet our objectives. Obviously, there is a lot of work still to do but we are more than ready for that,” Mäkinen said.
Mäkinen is a four-time WRC world champion with 24 wins to his name. Toyota GAZOO Racing hopes to leverage the experience of Tommi Mäkinen Racing and take the Yaris WRC to the upper reaches of the sport’s top-flight category.
The next important stage will be testing for the Yaris WRC, which is scheduled to start during the spring 2016.