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Motor Racing: Toyota given green light for F1 debut

TOYOTA HAVE been given the green light from Formula One organisers to make their debut as a full team. The Japanese firm revealed in a statement issued yesterday that the Federation Internationale de l'Automobile has "certified Toyota to fill the 12th slot".

A contract has been signed between the FIA and Toyota Motorsport GmbH, the company's German-based autosport subsidiary.

The company will be using tyres supplied by the French manufacturer, Michelin, which is making a comeback to Formula One in 2001 after a 17- year absence from the sport. The Toyota motor sport chief Ove Andersson said: "The timing is right, the feel is right and we are ready to go."

However, the actual timing of Toyota's entry into motor sport's elite division remains open to doubt. "As it stands, we want to take part at the latest by 2002 on the outside, but we are aiming for 2001 and that is what we will be working towards," a Toyota spokesman said.

The Japanese firm have also confirmed that they are pulling out of the World Rally Championship and the Le Mans 24-hour endurance race in order to concentrate their resources on Formula One and also on the US CART tour, in which they have yet to finish on the winners' podium.