Tommi Makinen, a four-time World Rally Champion, announced today that he will be retiring at the end of the current WRC season, after 18 years of rallying, including 12 at the World Championship level. Tommi Makinen. Photo by Subaru...
Tommi Makinen, a four-time World Rally Champion, announced today that he will be retiring at the end of the current WRC season, after 18 years of rallying, including 12 at the World Championship level.
Makinen's two-year contract with Subaru expires at the end of 2003, and the Finnish veteran driver felt that the time was right hang up his helmet at this time.
"After a lot of thought I arrived at the decision to retire from the World Championship after this season," Makinen explained. "I still enjoy driving and auto racing is still interesting, but I don't think I have very much to give to the sport any more."
"In this sport you have to be hungry and highly motivated, and now is a good time to step out."
Makinen first considered retirement four years ago, after winning his fourth consecutive World Championship with Mitsubishi, and again two years ago. However, a two-year offer from Subaru changed Makinen's mind at the time.
Now, though, the changes in WRC planned by the FIA seem to have tipped the balance in favor of retirement.
Subaru also announced that it will be filling the gap left by Makinen's departure with the return of Richard Burns, who previously won the 2001 World Championship with the Japanese team. Burns, who signed a two-year contract, will be partnering Subaru's other current driver, Petter Solberg, who is currently fourth in WRC points standings.