Tommi Mäkinen leads Toyota WRC return

Four-time World Rally Champion announced as team principal

Toyota Gazoo Racing has announced that four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen will direct its 2017 World Rally Championship campaign as team principal. Returning to the sport for the first time since 1999, the Japanese squad will field two Yaris WRCs to fight it out with the big names of rallying - Volkswagen, Citroën and Hyundai.

Mäkinen brings with him extensive rally experience, largely made up of an 18-year career that earned him 28 World Rally wins before his retirement in 2003. Working alongside him will be Akio Toyoda, the president of Toyota, who will take the role of the team’s chairman. 

Subscribe to evo magazine

evo is 21 and to celebrate, we're returning to 1998 prices! Subscribe now to SAVE 39% on the shop price and get evo for its original cover price of £3.00 an issue, plus get a FREE gift worth £25!

The pairing have worked together before, with Mäkinen teaching Toyoda the ins and outs of rally driving in a four-wheel drive GT86. ‘In the end, he taught me a lot more; he showed me the appeal of rallying and the relationship between vehicle development and rallying,’ explains Toyoda. ‘Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us.’

Not only does Toyoda expect Mäkinen to help the team in its WRC campaign, he also expects lessons learned to be transferred across to Toyota’s road cars. ‘With Tommi behind us, Toyota will forge ahead with our return to WRC and also our efforts to make even-better road cars.’

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

Though it’s still under development, Toyota has already revealed the basic specs of its 2017 challenger. Like its main rivals, the Yaris WRC is powered by a turbocharged 1.6-litre four-cylinder engine, which is quoted as producing around 300bhp at 6500rpm and a peak of 310lb ft of torque.

The turbo can provide up to 2.5bar of pressure, but the fitment of a 33mm restrictor comes thanks to WRC regulations. Drive is sent to all four wheels through a six-speed sequential gearbox with a ZF Sachs clutch.

To stop the car, 300mm brake discs are used on gravel, with meatier 355mm items used on tarmac stages. These will sit behind either 15-inch gravel spec wheels or 18-inch tarmac spec wheels. Of course, despite its technical similarities, we’ll have to wait until the first rally of 2017 to see if the Yaris WRC can contend with the likes of the Citroën DS3 WRC and ever-dominant VW Polo R WRC.

Toyota is yet to announce which drivers will pilot its two Yaris WRCs, but favourites for the jobs include Eric Camilli, Sebastian Lindholm, Stephane Sarrazin and Teemu Suninen – all of whom are currently involved in the development process.

Advertisement

Recommended

Visit/toyota/yaris/201932/toyota-gr-yaris-revealed-in-full-return-of-the-homologation-special
Toyota Yaris

Toyota GR Yaris revealed in full – return of the homologation special

10 Jan 2020
Visit/toyota/yaris/202068/toyota-gr-yaris-2020-review-an-early-drive-in-the-homologation-special
Toyota Yaris

Toyota GR Yaris 2020 review - an early drive in the homologation special

20 Dec 2019
Visit/toyota/yaris/201858/all-new-toyota-yaris-revealed-and-hot-gazoo-models-arent-far-behind
Toyota Yaris

All-new Toyota Yaris revealed – and hot Gazoo models aren’t far behind

17 Oct 2019
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/ford/202122/ford-focus-rs500-v-audi-rs3-new-v-used
Ford Focus RS

Ford Focus RS500 v Audi RS3 – new v used

One’s an eight-year-old Ford, the other a brand new Audi. But which of these five‑cylinder superhatches deserves your £45k?
18 Jan 2020
Visit/volkswagen/golf-gti/22866/new-volkswagen-golf-gti-to-be-revealed-at-geneva-motor-show-plus-new
Volkswagen Golf GTI hatchback

New Volkswagen Golf GTI to be revealed at Geneva motor show – plus new insight on the next Golf R

2020 VW Golf GTI returns in eighth-generation form at this year’s Geneva motor show
20 Jan 2020
Visit/news/22921/jannarelly-design-1-uk-edition-revealed-plus-our-initial-driving-impressions
News

Jannarelly Design-1 UK edition revealed – plus our initial driving impressions

We've gone for an early drive in the Jannarelly Design-1, does it live up to the sporty design?
22 Jan 2020
Visit/features/22907/hyundai-i30-fastback-n-versus-the-col-de-turini
Hyundai i30 N hatchback

Hyundai i30 Fastback N versus the Col de Turini

We take the Hyundai i30 Fastback N up the Col de Turini, a 31km stage of the Monte Carlo World Rally Championship
19 Jul 2019