Salo for Toyota?

THERE were rumors in Monaco that Finland's Mika Salo is close to signing a contract to drive for the new Toyota Motorsport Formula 1 team in 2002. Salo currently drives for Sauber and is expected to stay with the Swiss team next year but will then move to Toyota when the Japanese company enters the sport in 2002. By then Salo will be 35 years old but will have the experience necessary to help Toyota build up its program.

Salo is managed by Mike Greasley who used to manage many of the top rally drivers and knows the Toyota management very well, particularly Ove Andersson who has spent much of the last 20 years running teams in the World Rally Championship.

Salo has been involved in F1 since he was first signed by Team Lotus in 1994. When the team went out of business in 1995 he went on to work for Tyrrell on a three-year contract and then moved on to Arrows in 1998. He was left out of work at the start of 1999 but was eventually taken on by British American Racing when Ricardo Zonta was injured in an accident in Brazil. After Michael Schumacher's accident at Hockenheim Salo stood in for the German and came close to winning his first victory at Hockenheim where he slowed and allowed Eddie Irvine to win in his place. His strong performances at Ferrari led to a two-year deal with Sauber and he has been the team leader this year, scoring in San Marino and again in Monaco. Salo has the added advantage of being well-known in Japan having raced there for several years. He is also married to a Japanese woman.

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