Toyota could be on the verge of re-entering world rallying, according to reports from overseas.

America's Wall Street Journal has quoted Tadashi Yamashina, a Toyota senior managing director, who said: "Toyota wants to be engaged in motor sports in Europe."

The company is currently looking at rallies in Europe, such as the World Rally Championship (WRC), to decide which it might race in, said Yamashina, who oversees Toyota's motor sport operations.

He said a decision would likely be made "after summer holidays," around mid-August.

Yamashina said taking part in such a rally would be an effective way to enhance Toyota's image, which has been bruised by large-scale global vehicle recalls over safety concerns.

"Rallies have the highest media exposure," he said.

Toyota pulled out of the Formula One race from the 2010 season as part of an effort to reduce costs after plunging into its first net loss in 59 years in the fiscal year ended March 2009. Auto demand collapsed in the wake of the global financial crisis, while the strong yen ate into profits.

Other Japanese car makers, such as Fuji Heavy Industries Ltd. and Mitsubishi Motors Corp. also withdrew from European rallies, having taken a hit from the financial crisis.

Toyota's return to European rally racing would be its first since it withdrew from the WRC in 1999.

Toyota's return to the sport, if it happens, would follow yesterday's announcement that Mini will contest the WRC from next year, and that other manufacturers are also looking in to contesting the WRC.

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