Toyota closes on first win

Toyota is edging ever closer to its first CART victory, after Juan Montoya's dominant performance in the Firestone Firehawk 500 at Motegi two weeks ago

Toyota closes on first win

The team Ganassi driver retired several laps from the end of the race, but crucially has pole position for the forthcoming Bosch Spark Plugs Grand Prix at Nazareth this weekend.

And Toyota driver Christiano da Matta believes on the basis of recent results that the V8 is almost up there with the best engines in CART, after a difficult gestation.

"The difference between this year and last year is massive," he said, referring to the engine which powered Scott Pruett to Toyota's first pole position.

"I could tell from the first time I sat in the car for my seat fitting!" the Brazilian continued.

"As I was blipping the throttle I could instantly tell that the engine was a lot lighter, a lot more responsive."

Da Matta went on to describe how the top-end power of the Toyota is on a par with the cream of the CART powerplant crop, and the only area lacking is the low down torque.

The former Indy Lights series champion scored 4th places at the Rio and Motegi ovals.

Indeed, the top end power is far more important on a high speed oval like Nazareth, where the need for acceleration and low down pull is slight compared to a road course - this goes some way towards explaining Montoya's two pole positions on the Nazareth and Motegi ovals, and da Matta's recent upturn in form.

If the manufacturer has got over the problem that felled Montoya in Japan, it should be regarded as ready to score that elusive first victory.

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