Having called time on its short-term ambitions to enter F1 [see separate story - click here], Prodrive is now on the verge of teaming up with Toyota to launch a bid on the World Rally Championship laurels in 2011, reports claim.

Having left F1 with its tail between its legs at the end of last season and still smarting from its car recall PR disaster, Toyota undeniably has some bridges to rebuild on the international automotive stage, and it appears a return to rallying could be the first step.

The Japanese manufacturer has not competed in the WRC in an official capacity since 1999, when it switched its attentions towards its maiden F1 effort, but the company has a strong record and rich heritage in rallying, notching up back-to-back manufacturers' crowns in 1993 and 1994, and then triumphing again in 1999.

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Similarly, the David Richards-led, independent British engineering firm Prodrive has not had a presence in the sport since Subaru withdrew its works support at the end of 2008, but has palpably been looking for a way back in - and Toyota could just be that missing link.

"We want to be prepared if and when we get a call from Japan to go and compete," a spokesman for Cologne-based Toyota Motorsport told The Independent.