Four times World Rally Champion Tommi Mäkinen will head Toyota’s return to the WRC in 2017.
The Finn has been appointed Team Principal of the rallying arm of Toyota GAZOO Racing, Toyota’s umbrella motorsport company.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda will serve as team chairman.
Mäkinen had an 18 year career in the WRC between 1985 and 2002 and won four consecutive World Rally Driver’s Championships between 1996 and 1999.
“With comprehensive oversight from Mäkinen, the team will strengthen its vehicle development capabilities and work toward 2017,” said Mr Toyoda.
Since retiring from competitive driving, Mäkinen has developed a company to build and run Group N cars in the WRC, European and national championships.
The Germany based Toyota Rally Team, which Mäkinen will guide and provide his considerable experience to, has already started testing and development work of the Yaris WRC rally car.
“Rallying requires us to drive on the very roads our customers use every single day, and I believe it is the perfect training activity, ultimately helping us to produce better cars,” said Mr Toyoda.
“As the pinnacle of rallying, WRC is the best way to experience roads all over the world―that’s why Toyota is returning to the championship. And I am very happy and excited to have Tommi Mäkinen heading up our WRC team.”
“I first met Tommi in 2013. He showed me the appeal of rallying and the relationship between vehicle development and rallying.”
Mr Toyoda said Mäkinen had abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to Toyota.