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Monday, 5 February, 2001, 15:22 GMT
Toyota set for F1 debut
Mika Salo
Mika Salo: "It's going to be a very busy season."
Toyota are preparing to test-run their first fully own-built Formula One car next month.

The Japanese car maker plans to make their F1 debut in the 2002 Grand Prix series in Australia.

"Formula One is a new challenge and it's our biggest so far," said Ove Andersson, president of German-based Toyota Motorsport.

"Very few companies are brave enough to enter Formula One and even fewer decide to do it all on their own."

Toyota's decision will intensify their motor sports rivalry with Honda.

Honda, which quit F1 racing in 1992 after eight successful years as an engine supplier, made a comeback this season with an engine for former world champion Jacques Villeneuve's British American Racing outfit.

Toyota's two drivers will be Britain's Alan McNish and Finland's Mika Salo.

Mika Salo
Mika Salo: "There will be a lot of problems to solve"
"I just saw our provisional test schedule and it looks like a very busy season," said Salo.

"The car is new. There will be a lot of problems that we have to solve as fast as possible."

Toyota's F1 entry was originally scheduled for 2001, but in June last year they announced a 12-month delay meaning the company forfeited a 1.3 billion yen ($11m) deposit.

"Formula One is a new challenge and it's our biggest so far," said Andersson.

"We are well advanced at the moment because we are fighting to succeed from day one, but we also must be realistic and not raise our own expectations too high.

"To start from a clean sheet of paper, to build our own complete Toyota F1 car and to get the results, the wins and the championship success will take some years," he added.

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