Toyota names Tommi Mäkinen as Motorsport Advisor

After winning its third consecutive Le Mans 24 Hours, there’s a lot of pressure on Toyota to stay at the top, and the most popular Japanese car brand is making sure it retains its winning ways by appointing Tommi Mäkinen as Motorsport Advisor not only for its racing arm, but Toyota Motor Corporation as a whole.

Mäkinen is the main man behind the supercharged re-ignition of Toyota's World Rally operations from 2017. His team not only helped Toyota build its highly competitive rally car, but also develop the drivers slated to get behind its wheel.

Tommi Mäkinen

A year later, with Mäkinen at the helm, Toyota earned the manufacturers' world championship title, and in 2019 they won the drivers' and co-drivers' world championship titles.

With Mäkinen’s success, Toyota hopes to further its plans in other fields of motorsports, such as the development of motorsports-bred GR vehicles, strategic planning of motorsport activities, and driver talent development. His advice on strategy formulation and organizational operations is expected to prove valuable for these efforts.

After a six-month enforced break due to the ongoing pandemic, Toyota Gazoo Racing (TGR) is finally ready to defend its Fédération Internationale de l'Automobile (FIA) World Endurance Championship (WEC) title, as it preps for next weekend’s Total 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps in the country of Belgium. The racing arm of the number one Japanese car manufacturer last competed in the FIA WEC circuit in February in Austin, Texas. No FIA WEC race was held after that, as succeeding races were cancelled because of the circumstances worldwide since March. TGR’s return is three months delayed than the original plan, as the racing marque chose to wait it out and prioritize the safety of its drivers, staff, and fans. “We are very much looking forward to racing again and I would like to thank the WEC and FIA for their hard work over the past weeks to allow us to get back on track in a safe, responsible way,” said Hisatake Murata, Team President. “It has been a difficult period for so many people around the world, but we hope to put a smile on the face of endurance fans next week with the first WEC action since February.” The 6 Hours of Spa will commence on the 15th of August sans spectators. The TGR team will travel from its Cologne, Germany base determined to achieve its fourth straight victory at the Belgian track to extend its WEC lead, which stands at 33 points over the next contender, Rebellion Racing. The Belgium Spa remains the WEC’s warm-up race for the Le Mans 24 Hours, amplifying importance of next week's event not only for TGR, but the rest of the participants as well. However, it’s more significant for Toyota than most, because it will be the first time the low-downforce-specification TS050 HYBRID will be used for this season. “Everyone in the team, from mechanics and engineers to drivers, have worked hard since then to stay sharp and ready to race, so we hope to fight for another victory which would be the perfect way to prepare for Le Mans,” Murata added. TGR engineers and drivers kept their racing talents from getting rusty while on hiatus by participating in the Virtual Le Mans 24 Hours, on the same June weekend when the team should have been competing for a third consecutive Le Mans win. Toyota Motor’s homegrown racing circuit, the Vios Cup—now known as the Vios Racing Festival—will take longer than TGR to return. Resuming next year, the organizers recently announced that it is allowing participants to use the 2019 model and not the 2021 refreshed version of the popular city car. The 2021 Vios is available at a price range of PHP662,000 to PHP1.1 Million. Photo/s from Toyota Also read: Toyota transforms the Corolla into a crossover SUV After Supras, Toyota is reproducing parts for 2000GT next

Mäkinen won’t be completely leaving his old job behind, as Toyota's World Rally operations will now be managed directly by Toyota. From 2021 on the WRC operations will be run by TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe GmbH, the Toyota group company responsible for the core functions of Toyota motorsports in Europe.

“We are happy that as planned Toyota now decided to acquire the WRC-operations we have built together and I am also very happy of the way Toyota provides our experts with a steady home and future as TOYOTA GAZOO Racing World Rally Team,” Mäkinen said. “It is also important to me that operations will still stay in Jyväskylä and Tallinn, while the TOYOTA GAZOO Racing Europe takes the team under its wing.”

Photo/s from Toyota, Toyota GAZOO Racing

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