Tommi Mäkinen (born 1964
) is the only four time World Rally Champion
besides his countryman Juha Kankkunen
His career is a long journey of ups and downs, incredible strokes of good and bad luck. After winning the Group N Finnish Championship in 1988 and joining forces with the experienced co-driver Seppo Harjanne in 1990, Mäkinen managed to secure a seat in the under-powered Mazda works car in 1991. His next stop was the ill-fated WRC team of Nissan in 1992. It took until 1994 and an offer from Ford to drive a works car in the Neste Rally Finland for Mäkinen to score his first WRC victory. Even with a win in his back pocket, Mäkinen was forced to drive a mixed season with various marques and groups. His solid performance finally earned him a full-season seat in a competitive team, Mitsubishi, in 1995.
1996,1997,1998 and 1999 saw Tommi taking the Championship with Mitsubishi. Even these four years were not easy: often the title fight had more than enough of dramatics and ample doses of good and bad luck.
Mäkinen is still driving for Mitsubishi, backed up by his manager Timo Jouhki and excellent car tuner Lasse Lampi. His 2001 season has been one of mixed emotions, but his hold on a historical fifth title is still strong after the Neste Rally Finland. It is too early to say whether this pleasant Finn can pull it off!
Update: For the 2002 season Mäkinen ended his outstanding time with Mitsubishi and moved to replace Richard Burns at Subaru. The dramatic move has been explained with Mäkinen's desire for change and new challenges to keep up a motivation for the sport. The slump in Mitsubishi's performance in 2002 could also mean Mäkinen was not convinced with his old team's upcoming equipment. The season 2002 has once again been a season of mixed fortunes, with more driver errors than what the sport has learned to expect from the Finn.