Makinen to retire at end of season

Four-time World Rally Champion Tommi Makinen has announced that he will retire from the sport at the end of the current season, ending months of speculation about his future

Makinen to retire at end of season

The Finn's decision marks the end of a career that has seen him win 24 WRC events and a record four drivers' championships in consecutive seasons for Mitsubishi.

"It's a decision I haven't made lightly," said Makinen, whose final event will be this year's Rally GB in November. "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."

Makinen said that the radical changes to the WRC that are to be introduced from next season contributed to his decision to quit. "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. I'm sure 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 in Finland.

"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."

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, 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.

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