The head of Toyota’s recently revived WRC programme has a very impressive rally pedigree
The son of triple 1000 Lakes and RAC Rally winner Timo, Tommi Mäkinen’s competition career began on tractors and he was twice crowned Finnish ploughing champion during the 1980s. He switched to rallying in 1985 and won the national Group N title three years later. Mäkinen graduated full-time to the WRC in the middle of 1990 with a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 and Seppo Harjanne as his co-driver. He finished third in the Group N standings despite his late start.
Occasional works drives with Mazda and Nissan were followed by the offer of a factory Ford Escort RS Cosworth for the 1994 1000 Lakes. “I’m still not sure what happened,” he said after beating the recognised stars to establish his reputation on the world stage.
Mäkinen joined Mitsubishi in 1995, although mechanical failures, accidents and team orders prevented victory during that frustrating first season. However, that was the prelude to unprecedented domination of 1996-99 – a period that included 18 victories as Mäkinen became the first driver to win the WRC title for four years in a row. It is a feat that has since been equalled or bettered only by Sébastiens Loeb and Ogier.
Mäkinen spent two more seasons with Mitsubishi, finishing fifth and third in the title race, before moving to Subaru. A two-year stint included his fourth successive Monte Carlo Rally win before he decided to retire from the sport at the end of 2003, with 24 WRC victories to his name.
World Rally champion
1996, 1997, 1998, 1999
Finland 1994, 1996, 1997, 1998
Monte Carlo 1999, 2000, 2001, 2002
Argentina 1996, 1997, 1998
Sweden 1996, 1998, 1999
Australia 1996, 1998
Kenya 1996, 2001
Portugal 1997, 2001
Sanremo 1998, 1999
New Zealand 1999
Narrowest winning margin
7 seconds, 1997 Catalunya & 1000 Lakes