John Della Penna's Champcar outfit has suffered a crushing blow with the announcement that Toyota will not supply it with engines next season.

The Argentine's outfit was the first to run with Toyota power, and helped the company through a difficult gestation period before it became the most fashionable engine to have for 2001. Success with Ganassi and PPI this season has led to the Japanese V8 being courted by both Newman-Haas and Patrick Racing for next year, and the demand has now led to the midfield Della Penna outfit being cut from the supply list.

"In 1999, we took on the development of Toyota's Phase six engine when we teamed up with them," the saddened team boss said, "We did a lot of hard work with Richie [Hearn] on that programme, and I am proud to have contributed to the success the powerplant enjoys today.

"The last four years have been very difficult, as I've struggled to secure the right package, but we've always been competitive in every series we've participated in, and to win in CART still remains the ultimate challenge for me personally.

"We had a long-standing association with [Toyota] throughout our tenure in the Toyota Atlantic series, and I had hoped to build a long-term relationship with [them] in CART as well. However, I've now been informed by TRD [Toyota Racing Development] that the engine package will not be available to our team for next year."

The TRD decision comes another blow for Della Penna Motorsports after a series of problematic seasons. With the developing Toyota engine, Richie Hearn was unable to take the team much beyond the lower points positions, and subsequently parted company with the team he had enjoyed a long Atlantic, IRL and CART association with when his Budweiser sponsorship ran dry.

Hearn was replaced for 2000 by Argentine Norberto Fontana, but the F1 refugee proved disappointing, and a succession of drivers followed him into the now DirecTV-backed seat.

Australian Jason Bright made his CART debut last time out at Surfers' Paradise, but it is American Memo Gidley who has made the Della Penna car look its most competitive this year. Gidley and the team had both hoped that their relationship could be extended into 2001, but it now looks as though this may not be possible as Della Penna scales down its race activity immediately after this weekend's season finale.

"It's very disheartening to be in this situation," Della Penna continued, "The current climate in CART with regards to engine supply is damaging to the series and, in particular, to the smaller teams. I have current sponsorships that carry over into next season, as well as excellent prospects for additional sponsorships.

"Memo and I have developed a great working relationship, and we want to continue to work together. However, right now, there's no manufacturer prepared to supply us with engines for 2001. That's very discouraging."

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