The Confederation of Australian Motor Sport (CAMS) has expressed its disappointment following the announcement that Toyota will not be entering the 2009 Australian Rally Championship (ARC) as a manufacturer.

CAMS has enjoyed a long and successful partnership with Toyota and fully appreciates that the current demanding economic situation has led Toyota to this difficult decision.

“This is clearly an indication of the tough times ahead for the sport,” said CAMS CEO Graham Fountain.

“While the decision is disappointing, and the ARC and broader Rally fraternity will miss Toyota’s involvement, CAMS remains committed to supporting a viable and sustainable championship.

“We would like to thank Toyota for its contribution and involvement in the ARC, and look forward to a time when circumstances are again favourable to its participation in the Championship.”

Australian Rally Commission Chairman Colin Trinder acknowledged the valuable partnership developed between Toyota and Australian rallying over the many years.

“Toyota has made a significant mark on Australian rallying with competitors such as Neal Bates, Coral Taylor, and Simon and Sue Evans having inspired rally competitors at all levels to strive to achieve their goals,” Trinder said.

Already steps have been taken to create viable entry points for manufacturers other than at the elite four-wheel drive Group N and S2000 competition levels. These initiatives include the creation of the 2WD Australian Rally Championship, the Showroom Series and also the Eco Rally Challenge, which provide a platform to showcase low emission vehicles.

While Toyota’s departure may alter the competition, the change in circumstances provides a great opportunity for privateer competitors to display their skills, and compete for the outright success in the ARC and become part of its 41-year heritage.

It is understood that efforts are underway for Neal Bates’ team to enter the 2009 ARC season, which kicks off with Rally Tasmania on 14-15 February.

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