Due to hotly publicised introduction of Malaysia’s very own Formula One team Lotus F1, A1 Team Malaysia will find another racing series to compete in.Read the full news from Zerotohundred below.
A1 TEAM MALAYSIA LOOKING TO RACE IN THE LE MANS SERIES IN EUROPE.
With the A1 Grand Prix in a dire strait and its future looking rather bleak, it’s team are being forced to look at other race series to compete in. Our very own A1 Team Malaysia is among those teams that are looking for greener pastures and one of the option seems to be the Le Mans series in Europe. Shazwan Mustafa Kamal of the Malaysian Insider recently caught up with A1 Team Malaysia CEO Jack Cunningham and spoke to him about the possibilities of racing in Le Mans, the article is posted after the jump.
“With the future of A1 Grand Prix looking bleak due to financial difficulties, A1 Team Malaysia have set their sights on another car racing category — the Le Mans series in Europe.
A1 Team Malaysia CEO Jack Cunningham, in an interview with The Malaysian Insider, explained that the Malaysian A1 team was finally getting a clearer picture as to its direction and what it needed to do to ensure the team’s survival and relevance in the world of motorsports.
“We are still trying to understand how to fit in the motorsports picture in light of the F1 programme in Malaysia. Although there is no complete position, as of right now we have a greater sense of an idea of what we’re going to do,” said Cunningham, referring to the hotly publicised introduction of Malaysia’s very own Formula One team — Lotus F1.
His declaration today came in light of the recent controversies surrounding A1 Grand Prix, where so far three major racing events have been cancelled with the most notable being the opening race at the Surfers’ Paradise International Raceways in the Gold Coast, Australia.
A1 Grand Prix Operations Ltd, a subsidiary of A1 Holdings, went into liquidation in June 2009 after cash-flow problems resulted in the company, which is responsible for the day-to-day operations of the series, being unable to pay its suppliers.
Its cars were also impounded by a freight company seeking outstanding payments, something which threatens to ground the series to a permanent halt despite assurances that a rescheduling of races is to commence in February next year.
“We think that we are going to run in what is known as the Le Mans series as well as the 24-hour race of Le Mans,” said Cunningham of his Malaysian team’s plans.
The Le Mans series (LMS) is a European sports car racing endurance series based around the 24-hour Le Mans race and run by the Automobile Club de ‘Ouest (ACO). The series was originally named the Le Mans Endurance Series, but changed its name prior to the 2006 season.
The Le Mans 24-hour race, widely touted as one of the most gruelling races in the racing industry, requires drivers to drive 24 hours non-stop where whoever goes the furthest wins. Only refuelling and the changing of tyres are allowed. Three drivers take turns to drive each car.
Although the future sounds promising for A1 Team Malaysia, the issue of sponsorship remains a problem.
“We are talking to our current sponsors in the light of the probability that A1GP will only adjourn in February… we have to see whether they will support us in another series.”
Asked whether the talks are proving to be favourable, he declined to speculate as things were too early for any concrete indication.
“Impossible to say at the moment, it’s too early to gauge their feelings on this, but without the transfer of sponsors we would not be able to go ahead with this (Le Mans series plan). We also need to find other sponsors that would want to do the series with us,” noted Cunningham.
He hinted that the prospective sponsors were more “flexible” than the current sponsors the team had under A1GP.
Besides that, a deal with car racing engineering company Lola is possibly in the works, as Lola has shown positive feedback towards A1 Malaysia’s courtship of them.
“I don’t want them (Lola) to think that the sale to us of these cars is a given… I want to go back to them and negotiate a proper deal. It’s not finalised. Lola was here in Malaysia last week discussing a range of issues, to see if there are potential partners for Lola in Malaysia.”
Cunningham asserted that the focus on Lola was also because the original A1 cars were of Lola designs.
It is understood that Lola aims to expand its reach and influence in Malaysia far beyond motorsports, as Lola also owns a large composite business, and 75 per cent of the company’s work is outside the motorsports field.
A1 team Malaysia’s racing engineers are currently in a training programme with Lola to “familiarise” themselves with its cars.
There is also the probability of the team hiring a non-Malaysian for the position of one of the three drivers as Fairuz Fauzy’s availability depends entirely on Lotus F1.
“We have three weeks to decide on this. The entries for the Le Mans series have to be submitted in January,” said the A1 Malaysia boss.”