Toyota’s WRC team announced real surprise news on Friday when it confirmed Jari-Matti Latvala will move to the position of team Principle. Latvala will succeed Tommi Mäkinen, who will be the advisor to the motorsport department of Toyota’s parent company.
The choice of Latvala was ultimately the responsibility of Akio Toyoda, President, and CEO of Toyota.
“It’s been a year since we gave Jari-Matti a send-off from the team as a driver. And now, I’m very glad that I’m delivering this message again. When thinking about our new team from 2021, Jari-Matti’s face first came to my mind. That’s because there were many situations in which I empathized with him since we met.”
“He always thinks of the fans and of his team-mates. Being one of the top drivers, I often saw him running up to fans as soon as he got out of the car at the service park. He cared about everybody in the team like mechanics and engineers and always talked to them. I believe this kind of attitude and character empowered the team a lot and helped lead to the manufacturers’ title.”
“When I first met him, he was wearing Volkswagen overalls, but he talked to me about his old Celicas and Corollas with a huge passion. The following year, he changed his overalls to Toyota’s. He loved our Yaris WRC, took very good care of it, and made it stronger. As a car guy who loves cars, I still remember how happy I was to see his love for cars and love for Toyota.”
“’We hate to lose.’ This is also what we have in common. When he had to retire at Rally Australia in 2017, he must have been more disappointed than anyone else, however, he came to the team members and apologised for his mistake. He has a strong sense of responsibility. I know the ‘we hate to lose’ mindset makes the team and cars stronger.”
“His ability as a manager is unproven, but the attributes that we have in common between us were the deciding factors for entrusting the team to him. I believe these will bring the strength to the team.”
“I trust him to lead the new Toyota GAZOO Racing World Rally Team and I’m looking forward to climbing up onto the roof of the Yaris WRC with him.
There is no evidence of his leadership skills yet, but our common qualities were significant factors in trusting the team in his hands.
“I am confident that he will lead the new team at Toyota Gazoo Racing well and I look forward to being able to climb the roof of the Yaris WRC with him,” Toyota President and CEO Akio Toyoda says.