A match with the perfect team

Tommi Makinen

Born 1964 in Puuppola, Finland. Makinen’s WRC debut was “1000 Lakes Rally” in 1987. From there he took part in the WRC with Mazda, Nissan, Mitsubishi and Subaru teams. Makinen won the Drivers’ Championship 4 years in a row from 1996 to 1999. He retired as a driver in 2003. He now runs Tommi Makinen Racing, and is team principal of the Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team.

Makinen winning the 1999 San Remo Rally (Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution VI)

Tommi Makinen started his rally driving career in 1985 with a Ford Escort at the age of 21. By 1987 he debuted in the WRC 1000 Lakes Rally in a Lancia Delta HF 4WD Group N. Although he wasn’t able to finish the race, his speed caught people’s attention. From 1988 to 1989, he raced with a Lancia Delta in Finland and Italy. With the support of teammate driver Juha Kankkunen, Makinen participated in a Mitsubishi Galant VR-4 Group N on the WRC 5th round. He competed in the 1991 WRC with a Mazda 323 GTX at the Mazda Rally Team Europe (MRTE), and in 1992 with a Nissan Sunny GTI-R at the Nissan Rally Team Europe (NME). However, with Nissan withdrawing from the championship, Makinen loses his seat. In 1993, he joined the championship in a Lancia Delta HF Integrale from Astra Racing. In the 1994 “1000 Lakes Rally”, Makinen raced in a Ford Escort RS Cosworth and got his first win. He then joined the WRC San Remo Rally with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution II from Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe.

From 1995, Makinen competed in both WRC and Asia Pacific Rally Championship with a Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution II&III from Mitsubishi Ralliart Europe (MRE). He ended up 5th overall in the WRC, while Colin McRae won the championship. Makinen and McRae competed as rivals throughout their careers in the WRC.

As Makinen was involved in the development of active 4WD featured on the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution back then, he often visited Japan. While doing so, Makinen also appeared in the movie “Dead Heat” featuring Jackie Chen. He played a stunt driver for Jackie Chen, whose character was a Mitsubishi driver.

Makinen won the Drivers’ Championship 4 years in a row from 1996 to 1999 with the Lancer Evolution that he became fond of through the development process. Makinen adjusted his driving style as he tested the car. Many people thought Finnish drivers were only good with gravel, but Makinen proved that to be wrong by winning tarmac rounds like Monte Carlo and Catalunya. The relationship Makinen and Mitsubishi had together brought success.

In 1997, the season saw many changes in the championship. World Rally Car was introduced with manufacturers given the option which regulations to construct to. All manufacturers excluding Mitsubishi used World Rally Cars. Mitsubishi decided to stay with Group A to maintain the link with the Mitsubishi Lancer Evolution road car. However, Mitsubishi and Makinen lost the championship in 2000 to Marcus Grönholm in a Peugeot 206 WRC. Makinen moved on to Subaru World Rally Team in 2002 and won the first round of the season, Monte Carlo Rally. This became his last WRC win of his career.

Makinen after switching to Subaru World Rally Team in 2002

After retirement, Makinen founded “Tommi Makinen Racing” which manufactures rally cars and also runs rallies. When Toyota announced its return to the WRC, it was revealed that Makinen will be team principal of Toyota Gazoo Racing World Rally Team. Makinen helped the team to win the 2018 WRC Manufacturers’ Championship and the 2019 WRC Drivers’ Championship. This season, with the Rally Japan on its calendar, the team aims to win a double championship.

Fan meeting at the Toyota Gazoo Racing booth during the 2020 Tokyo Auto Salon

Tommi Makinen WRC Record of victory

Times Year Event Co-driver Car
1994 1000 Lake Rally Seppo Harjanne Ford Escort RS Cosworth
1996 Swedish Rally Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
1996 Safari Rally Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
1996 Rally Argentina Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
1996 1000 Lake Rally Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
1996 Rally Australia Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo III
1997 Rallye de Portugal Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV
1997 Rallye Catalunya Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV
1997 Rally Argentina Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV
10 1997 Rally Finland Seppo Harjanne Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV
11 1998 Swedish Rally Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo IV
12 1998 Rally Argentina Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V
13 1998 Rally Finland Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V
14 1998 Rallye Sanremo Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V
15 1998 Rally Australia Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo V
16 1999 Rally Monte-Carlo Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
17 1999 Swedish Rally Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
18 1999 Rally New Zealand Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
19 1999 Rallye Sanremo Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
20 2000 Rally Monte-Carlo Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo VI
21 2001 Rally Monte-Carlo Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5
22 2001 Rallye de Portugal Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5
23 2001 Safari Rally Risto Mannisenmäki Mitsubishi Lancer Evo 6.5
24 2002 Rally Monte-Carlo Kaj Lindström Subaru Impreza WRC 01

WRC Legend Driver TOP

Silver Partner

  • Mitsui Sumitomo Insurance

Bronze Partners

  • ACT HOLDINGS
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