Toyota team pick up a one-year ban

The Toyota team were yesterday banned from the World Championship for one year for using illegal turbo restrictors in the Catalonia Rally in Spain last month.

An extraordinary meeting of the sport's World Council in Paris stripped the Toyota team and their drivers of all points in this year's championship.

The International Automobile Federation president, Max Mosley, said the team's illegal turbo restrictor was "the most sophisticated device I've ever seen in 30 years of motor sports."

Toyota will not be able to compete in the World Championship until the RAC Rally next November, although team drivers, the reigning world champion Didier Auriol, of France, Juha Kankkunen, of Finland, and Germany's Armin Schwartz, could compete for other teams.

"There is no suggestion the drivers were aware of what was going on," Mosley said.

Auriol, who finished fourth in the Catalonia Rally before being disqualified, and Kankkunen had been in contention for this year's world title.

Mosley said Toyota had been represented at yesterday's hearing but had not contested the illegality of their action. "They said the decision had been made at a certain level of the team and that the management had not known about it," he said. "It's not up to us to accept that or not. The team has to take responsibility."