January 16, 2006

Ex-Toyota staff charged over Ferrari case

FRANKFURT (Reuters) - German investigators have filed
charges against three former Toyota Motorsport officials
suspected of using technology stolen from Ferrari to test
racing car aerodynamics, Cologne prosecutors said on Monday.

The officials are accused of violating German competition
law by using a data analysis program brought over by a
technician who joined the Toyota Formula One team from Ferrari
in early 2002, the prosecutors said in a statement.

The Toyota officials used the program in 2002 and 2003 to
develop race cars even though they knew the software had been
obtained illegally, the statement said.

"Separate investigations into the former Ferrari staff
member are being conducted in Italy and by Cologne
prosecutors," it added.

In a statement, a Toyota spokeswoman said the company had
taken note of the development.

"The three people in question, as verbally divulged by the
Cologne authorities today, are Ove Andersson (former
vice-chairman and team principal), Gustav Brunner (former chief
designer) and Rene Hilhorst (former head of aerodynamics)," the
statement said.

"Toyota Motorsport has not been formally notified of the
above matter and does not have full knowledge of the specific
issues. Toyota Motorsport would like to stress that the charges
have not been brought against the company," it added.

"For this reason, Toyota wishes to refrain from further
comment, but remains confident that the situation will be
resolved with a positive conclusion for those involved."

The charges were lodged in December. A Cologne court that
specializes in economic crimes will hear the case, but
prosecutors did not give a date for the trial.

The Toyota Formula One team had their best year in 2005
since entering the sport in 2002.

The team, with drivers Ralf Schumacher and Italian Jarno
Trulli, finished fourth, just 12 points adrift of Ferrari.

They also secured their first podium finishes and first
pole positions.