Tommi Makinen to retire at the end of 2003

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 World ...

Tommi Makinen to retire at the end of 2003

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 World Rally Team.
The Finn's accomplishments include an unprecedented four consecutive World Championships from 1996 to 1999, and 24 victories in 134 WRC rallies. His tally of victories is exceeded only by Carlos Sainz, who won the 25th WRC event in his career in Turkey this year.

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.

Tommi Makinen.
Photo by Subaru World Rally Team.
"I've never seemed to have enough time for family, my farm and my hobbies, so I'm looking forward to spending more time at home in Finland," Makinen mused. "Perhaps there'll be the chance for some more driving in the future, who knows, maybe one or two rally raids, that sort of thing, you should never say never, but the 2003 Championship will be my last at this level."

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.

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