Since 1975, Toyota Team Europe (TTE), under the direction of Ove Anderson, had been responsible for our World Rally Championship activities. In 1998, TTE broadened its focus to competing in the Le Mans 24 Hours race, although it nevertheless won our third WRC Manufacturers’ Championship in 1999.
After an impressive debut in 1998, the innovative TS020 was denied victory in the 1999 race – despite starting from pole position – through bad luck, although one car did go on to finish in second position. As one of the first racing cars to be developed completely by computer-aided design, the TS020 was one of the most advanced racing cars on the world stage.
A few years earlier in 1996, we became an engine supplier to the CART Champ Car series in North America. After tasting victory for the first time in 2000, it took a further two years before Cristiano Da Matta scooped our first drivers’ and manufacturers’ titles in the series. A year later, in 2003, we moved our supply across to the competing Indy Racing League where we made an immediate impression by winning the drivers’ title.
The icing on a very successful 2003, was Gil de Ferran’s victory at the prestigious Indianapolis 500 race at the Indianapolis Motor Speedway, a first for a Japanese engine manufacturer.