Toyota Gazoo Sport team boss and rally legend Tommi Mäkinen found his faith in Ott Tänak rewarded when the Estonian clinched the WRC drivers' title in Catalunya on Sunday, something the Finn had been predicting for weeks.
"I knew before this weekend that it was going to be very difficult for him to be fastest in this rally, but still, at the end of the last power stage where he had to do something he was incredible, performing in an incredible way, and that shows how strong he can be in this kind of situation, when something is needed," Mäkinen said, speaking to ERR's sports portal in Salou, 100 km down the coast from Barcelona and center of this weekend's event (see video link above).
"I have seen the same [thing] so many times the same situation and know how tough it is – it's hard to define, nobody understands what it means to be there over a long weekend waiting and waiting and trying to keep your concentration together with the highest ever pressure, it is so stressful, but he handled it and as we have seen he is the world champion, and he can be again, now he knows what it means," Mäkinen added.
The Finn, who was WRC champion himself five times between 1996 and 2000, would not be drawn on a comparison with his own achievements and those of Tänak's, however: "You cannot compare [drivers] over time, but at the moment he is the best," he said.
As to whether Ott, 32, from Saaremaa, would be continuing next season amid earlier rumors he would be switching teams, Mäkinen simply said: "I hope so, of course."
Editor: Andrew Whyte