The Toyota Racing Development-designed and built RV8F could become the first-ever US-manufactured engine to win the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach this weekend.

The power plant carried Cristiano da Matta to victory in the FedEx Championship Series season opener at Monterrey in March and, in addition, the RV8F scored six wins in 2001. This allowed the powerplant to join its predecessor - the Toyota RV8E - as the only US-designed and built engines to win CART events in the last 20 years.

With the victory at Monterrey, both Toyota and da Matta again return to Long Beach with the points lead. Toyota currently holds a three-point advantage over Honda, while da Matta boasts a five-point lead in the drivers' championship standings.

"It was great to start the season with another victory at Monterrey, but the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach is a race we'd really like to win," admitted Jim Aust, Toyota's vice-president of motorsports, "This is Toyota's 28th year as a sponsor in Long Beach, our US headquarters is just minutes away in Torrance and we're expecting approximately 3,000 guests on Sunday, so a victory here would be as big as any we've had since entering the series in 1996."

While no current Toyota-powered driver has won the Toyota Grand Prix of Long Beach in a Champcar, three of the eight have won through the Southern California streets during their Indy Lights careers. da Matta (1998), Scott Dixon (2000) and Townsend Bell (2001) all won Long Beach Lights events, with Dixon also finishing second in 1999.

"I think Long Beach is one of the most challenging street tracks we go to," da Matta said, "You have some hard braking and you have to be fast on the straights, but you can't take away too much down force or you struggle in the twisty parts. I enjoy the track a lot.

"I actually drove a Celica there for the Pro/Celebrity Race practice. I was giving media rides and just having a lot of fun. It's a very nice circuit. It's also one of, if not the most important race of the year for Toyota. It would be great to be the driver to give Toyota its first Toyota Grand Prix win."