Toyota has decided against entering a manufacturer team into the 2009 Australian Rally Championship, and ceasing all financial support for Neal Bates' Motorsport.
The decision came just a fortnight before the opening round of the championship in Tasmania, and leaves Toyota drivers Neal Bates and Simon Evans out of a drive. Bates is hoping to enter the championship as a privateer at a later date, but this is dependent on him gaining sponsorship.
Toyota's withdrawal means that there are no manufacturer entries in the Australian Rally Championship this year.
Just when you thought the ARC couldn't be in worse shape, this pops up. Although I suppose the relative up-side is that Toyota won't have supreme dominance over the series and this is a rare opportunity for privateers to just go for it. Hopefully within a few years manufacturers will join up and the privateers that excel now may well be rewarded with a factory drive in the years to come.
I'd like to think of it as a clean start for the ARC to rebuild.