Fans probably should not be too interested in politics and they also should not care much about things happening in the background. We should simply sit tight and put on a happy face for Toyota’s WRC comeback in 2017. In the end, even if they, and by they I mean Toyota Motors Corporation, suddenly went all transparent, revealing every single detail about the changes concerning their WRC project, it would not mean much to us, mere mortal fans and enthusiasts. It’s their party and their business, they want to start off strong and competitive and it is only natural that their main goal is to have everything in place and ready for 2017. With that in mind, it’s no wonder Toyota remained dedicated to the future instead of dealing with the past, no matter how odd or unusual that may sound. Company’s latest press announcement only spoke about Tommi Makinen’s role in the project and never, not with a single word, mention the Toyota Motorsport GmbH’s contribution or possible future role in marque’s return to the WRC. As if TMG does not even exist, as if they never built a prototype Yaris WRC and tested the hell out of it. Nope, never happened or even if it did happen, it maybe did not meet TMC’s requirements, or some deadlines weren’t met, or the progress wasn’t fast enough. Perhaps Toyota wanted to give this project a more recognizable and global name, so team is now called Toyota GAZOO Racing (mind the caps) – I will risk it, but I must admit I never, until now, heard about GAZOO or even Gazoo and have exactly 0 idea what it means. I do not follow much of motor sports outside WRC, some F1 and a touch of World RX.
Anyway, maybe Cologne based TMG did their part in the project, they built the car and did initial testing and now it’s time to shift gears and expand the team, put someone in charge and continue working. Yep, must be that. There is no way TMG messed up and therefore received no mention whatsoever in latest announcement, nope. They did a fine job, but as usual in today’s world of corporate motor sports, if your task is done, you hand it over and take a step back, not expecting any recognition. I am probably stretching this too far, but it just… tastes odd.
However, struggles or not, I am glad Toyota is making those moves now, making sure big changes are done in time, so the team can prepare properly and start their WRC campaign in a competitive manner.
Oh, yeah, one more thing. We’ve heard a lot about why Tommi is just ideal person to take the team principal job, but nothing more. Who will build the cars, where, do they remain in Cologne, etc.? Hope they produce some testing and development videos soon, to stop us pondering over these questions and give us something palpable to talk about. Even if all this is only about names, letting one name take the spotlight and the other to return to the shadows.
LATER I learned that GAZOO is something Toyota wants to promote as their headline (and only) motorsport “brand” or team or something, so excuse my utter ignorance, as I said, I don’t watch nor follow many of those otherwise obviously popular motor sport series.
Toyota’s official PR follows below.
TOMMI MÄKINEN LEADS TOYOTA GAZOO RACING’S WRC RETURN IN 2017
Toyota GAZOO Racing has determined its team structure leading up to Toyota’s return to the FIA World Rally Championship (WRC) in 2017.
Toyota President Akio Toyoda will serve as team chairman while Tommi Mäkinen*, a celebrated WRC veteran, will be offering his expertise as team principal. With comprehensive oversight from Mäkinen, who holds four drivers’ titles over his 18-year WRC career, the team will strengthen its vehicle development capabilities and work toward 2017.
Team name Toyota GAZOO Racing
Vehicle Yaris WRC (length: 3910 mm; width: 1820 mm)
Team chairman Akio Toyoda
Team principal Tommi Mäkinen
Message from Team Chairman Akio Toyoda:
Whenever I’m behind the wheel, I always think: “it is the road that makes the car.”
For Toyota to make ever-better cars, we have to get a feel for all the kinds of roads that are out there.
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 strengthen our products.
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. At that time he was my instructor, helping me improve my driving technique. In the end, he taught me a lot more; he showed me the appeal of rallying and the relationship between vehicle development and rallying.
Tommi has abundant experience and fresh ideas for vehicle development, both of which will be valuable assets to us. After talking to Tommi, I felt: “I want to work with him; I want him to help us make better cars,” and that’s how I came to ask for his support with this project. With Tommi behind us, Toyota will forge ahead with our return to WRC and also our efforts to make ever-better cars.
Rallying allows both participants and spectators to feel the enjoyment of cars, and it encourages car manufacturers to hone their skills. We have been away from WRC for a long time as a manufacturer. I have huge respect for the manufacturers, drivers, team members, and fans that make this wonderful competition what it is, and I’m thrilled to bring Toyota back to WRC. Please join me in supporting Toyota GAZOO Racing.”