New Toyota boss Makinen looks to bin Yaris project

 New Toyota team principal Tommi Makinen says he could make large scale changes by scrapping the development of the Yaris World Rally car and opting for a new model for the team’s highly anticipated return to the WRC in 2017.
Toyota Yaris
Toyota Yaris

The four-time world rally champion was announced as the new team boss at Toyota earlier this week and after making initial introductions he explained to German-based Toyota Motorsport (TMG) that he wants to take a hands-on approach and may halt the Yaris development altogether.

Current test drivers Sebastian Lindholm and Stephane Sarrazin have been working on the Yaris World Rally car since January and were joined by new development drivers Eric Camilli and Teemu Suninen who recently signed with TMG.

However, according to Makinen is already assessing whether the Yaris machine is the right direction for Toyota or whether they should start again with a new car.

“Even though we will need to have a proper test driver, I think it will be good if I drive too,” Makinen told“There are some ideas that I have which might be able to help and in any case it is good to get inputs and opinions from as many people as possible.”

Makinen has some experience of running a rally team as he set up his own squad which competes in his home country of Finland after he retired from driving. The 51-year-old claimed 24 WRC event victories in his career on his way to four consecutive WRC titles between 1996-1999.

“We have a huge amount of work between now and 2017 to test the car in every circumstance – snow, gravel, high altitude, low altitude. We will need to test everywhere in the world,” he explained. “Since I stopped driving I have had my own team – Tommi Mäkinen Racing – which has been preparing Group N cars for quite a while, so I have experience of running a team.

“But of course the challenge is bigger this time and there is a lot more responsibility and things to do.”