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Good location, government support and brilliant people make Estonia a perfect place for Toyota WRC Rally Team

In 2018, Toyota Gazoo Racing WRT rally team moved a significant part of its operations to Peetri, an area situated a few kilometres South of Estonia's capital Tallinn. According to leaders of the rally team, they have no regrets as the team's operations are now at a really good logistical location, the people hired are doing their job brilliantly and state support can be felt as well.

“Our building has been designed, having all our processes in mind,” Mäkinen, the CEO of Tommi Mäkinen Racing told the Estonian-language daily newspaper Õhtuleht. “A wonderful job has been done here to make things smooth. Sometimes, our schedule is quite tight as the cars have to move between locations. The timetable is one of our biggest challenges.”

The Peetri plant has a really international set of employees. While most are from Estonia, there are Finnish, Japanese, Swiss, Dutch, etc. The plant employs 32 people, plus about 60 contractors, meaning that there are 40-50 people working at the plant daily.

A part of Toyota’s rally cars production was moved to Estonia in 2018 when Estonian rally driver Ott Tänak and co-driver Martin Järveoja were driving for Toyota. The next year, Tänak and Järveoja became world champions, representing the Japanese brand. While the driver and co-driver moved on to Hyundai for the 2020 season, Toyota’s plant remains in Estonia and keeps working to help Toyota and its drivers fight for the next WRC title. Toyota’ team leaders noted that they were even surprised that no local employees left with the Estonian driver and co-driver.

There are many reasons for Estonia being a good place for a world rally team. According to Mäkinen, one of them is logistics – it is easier to use the road connections to Central Europe than they would be from Finland; there are good flight connections to a hub that is important for the team, Warsaw; at the same time, Helsinki and the roads in Finland where testing is carried out are nearby.

The Deputy Managing Director Mia Miettinen also stressed that the Estonian government has welcomed the rally team very warmly. “Even the Prime Minister calls us and asks if everything is going well and if we need anything,” she said, adding that this would most probably not be the case in some other countries.

Tommi Mäkinen and Prime Minister Jüri Ratas at Lunch with Prime Minister for Finnish investors in Helsinki, organized by Invest Estonia in February 2020.

The World Rally Championship will continue with a round in Estonia on 4-6 September, 2020. Toyota has a double lead before Rally Estonia, with Sebastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia at the top of the championship standing before the fourth round, and Elfyn Evans – Scott Martin in the second position. Estonia’s Hyundai sportsmen Ott Tänak and Martin Järveoja are currently fifth in the standing, aiming to move forward after their home rally.

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