Tommi Makinen is one of the many respected Finnish names to dominate WRC. Through the late nineties, Makinen was an almost-untouchable force; winning four consecutive titles with Mitsubishi and winning the daunting Monte Carlo rally four years in a row. Here we get the opportunity to see him thrashing the Subaru WRC car he ran the last year of his career. With the Hot Version judges riding shotgun, Orido, Tsuchiya and Taniguchi all weigh in on the performance of a works rally car and the driving brilliance of the reserved Finn. Though they are all respected and successful drivers in their own fields, they cannot help but be bewildered by Makinen’s ability.
Set on the tight, twisting Gunsai touge used for Hot Version’s Touge Challenge series, Makinen gives a masterclass on how to manage a rally car on surfaces that involve snow, ice and dry patches. Thankfully, the onboard footage is accompanied by a footcam which shows some of Makinen’s technique at work. As he enters certain corners, his left foot begins to brake and his right foot still adds jabs of throttle to stabilize the rear end. In longer corners, his right and left foot dance of their pedals, maintaining a constant, mild level of oversteer that allows Makinen to keep his car pointed in the right direction and avoid any time-sapping understeer.
Makinen’s excellent throttle control is only bested by his ability to read the surface in front of him. Every bit of snow and every patch of ice is anticipated and considered in his approach to the corner. Perhaps the highest praise he, or any racing driver can receive, is the honest admittance from his passengers that riding along was not, even in treacherous conditions, scary at all.