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Toyota Make the Big Breakthrough

Toyota made the big breakthrough on Sunday after three years and 52 races without a Formula One podium

Italian Jarno Trulli put his red and white car on the front row of the Malaysian Grand Prix grid and stayed second all the way to the chequered flag. German teammate Ralf Schumacher finished fifth.

"It is a good boost this first podium, it came at the right time for the team and at the right place," said Trulli, a winner in Monaco for Renault last year.

For a carmaker with little to show for an estimated $1 billion spent since their debut in 2002, the hottest race of the year and one of the most technically challenging came as a liberation. It provided proof that the sport's sleeping giant had woken and was beginning to flex its muscles.

"I think relief is probably not the right word, but it's really good for the people and their motivation because they worked really hard," said Toyota motorsport president John Howett. "Whilst we've been under a lot of pressure, I think in the end when you start something from zero and you build the chassis and engine it takes time.

"We also need to keep our heads on our shoulders because we've got one podium but we want to make sure we can run as convincingly as we have today on the race pace and really maintain that development through the season."

Push On

Until Sunday, Toyota's best result was fifth place but the arrival of two race-winning drivers in Trulli and Ralf Schumacher and former Renault designer Mike Gascoyne has quickened their pace.

"Now we need to push on," said Gascoyne. "We need to go and win some races. We've got to get it all right, which we did this weekend, and push. I don't see why we shouldn't have this level of performance (at the next race) in Bahrain."

Trulli, while not challenging race winner Fernando Alonso for victory, came under pressure only from his team as the race wore on.

"Mid-race I had such a big gap that the team started to worry me about the front tyres and I had to slow down," he said.

"At the end of the race, it is nice to be second and it doesn't matter to get the hassle - its important to get the car to the finish line and to score this first podium. We still have some work to do, but it is definitely nice to be here," added the Italian.

"It was a challenge when I chose Toyota, but I chose them for several reasons, for several people and I knew there was a lot of potential in this team.

"Now, we know we have to work on the engine, the chassis and the aerodynamics, but we have got tremendous, experienced people like Gascoyne, (engine expert) Luca Marmorini and lots of highly experienced engineers who can do it for the future."

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