VIDEO: TOYOTA F1 EXIT OPENS NEW DOORS
New GT1, Le Mans and WRC challenges could all follow the exit from F1 - but where will Toyota go?
As Toyota announced a painful withdrawal from F1 this morning, no attempt was made to suggest a future direction for its motorsport activity.
Toyota has a long and illustrious motorsport history and, in spite of its withdrawal from F1, the company's new president Akio Toyoda (who has raced the Lexus LF-A at the Nurburgring) has confirmed an ongoing commitment to competition.
"I have been calling for product-focused management since I became president at Toyota this June," he said today in the press conference called to announce the departure from F1.
"Motor sports remain an important means of personalizing the automobile in the eyes of customers. Motor sports also remain an important means of cultivating human resources and our R&D operations.
"We will rethink our motor-sports activities with an eye to maximizing those benefits while addressing economic realities. And we will take what we learn on the racetrack and put it to work in ever-better vehicles that are aimed at meeting the highest of expectations."
Here at PH towers, we think 'product focused management' can only mean one thing - a return to forms of competition that showcase metal you can actually buy in the showroom.
It's no secret that Toyota top brass in Japan have fond memories of vintage WRC victories with cars like the Celica and Corolla, and they also speak wistfully of 'unfinished business' at Le Mans, where their best result was a second place finish in 1999 with the GT-One.
With the Lexus LFA supercar, and the FT-86 coupe coming on stream, it seems certain that Toyota products will appear in GT racing one way or another - but where will Toyota put its own money?
Clips like the fantastic video edit below should provide some inspiration...