Four-time World Champion Tommi Makinen will retire from the WRC in November, bringing an end to a 16-year career that brought the Finn 24 rally wins.

Four-time World Champion Tommi Makinen will retire from the WRC in November, bringing an end to a 16-year career that brought the Finn 24 rally wins.


"It's a decision I haven't made lightly," said Makinen, who won four consecutive world titles for Mitsubishi from 1996 to1999. "Picking the right time to stop isn't easy, but I'm happy with what I've achieved in the WRC, and I've been lucky to drive for two excellent teams.


"Realistically, there isn't really much for me to gain by carrying on at this level and my thinking is that it's better to stop when you're at the top. Also, with so much change planned in the WRC over the coming seasons, I feel this is the end of an era, and a good time for me to step down.


One of the radical changes that Makinen referred to was the third driver nomination rule - which forces WRC teams that field more than two drivers to employ a third pilot who has not scored a podium in the rally series in the previous three years.


"It's going to seem a bit strange next January, but 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. Perhaps there'll be the chance for some more driving in the future, but the 2003 Championship will be my last at this level," he said.


Makinen's last rally appearance will be in the Rally of Great Britain on November 7, but the Finn has pledged to maximise his efforts over the five remaining World Championship rounds.


Subaru team principal David Lapworth said: "I'm sure this was a very difficult decision for Tommi to take, he's had an incredibly successful career, even after four World Titles he remains highly motivated and fiercely competitive.


"Tommi's one of the most respected drivers in the WRC and it's been a pleasure to work with him for the past two seasons. In particular, the way that he and Petter Solberg work together stands out - theirs is one of the most constructive and successful driver pairings I can remember," he added.


According to , Makinen's rallying career began in 1985, but really took off when Ford gave him a run on the 1000 Lakes (now Rally Finland). He won the event and soon signed a contract with Mitsubishi for 1995. Makinen won his first title in 1996, the first of four years of domination that would ensure his place in WRC history.

Original article from Car