Tuesday, December 28, 2010

BREAKING NEWS: Clive Chapman sides with Group Lotus

  • Clive Chapman endorses Group Lotus F1 effort and rejects Team Lotus
  • Controversy over use of the name will make its way through British courts in January

Clive with Proton MD Datuk Syed Zainal
at the preview of Lotus future models in Paris in October

Even at the Paris Motor Show, Clive Chapman had already shown that he has a special place for Group Lotus and Lotus Cars in his heart, after all, the company is the one that is keeping his father's legacy alive through thick and thin.

Despite Lotus Group making losses for more than a decade, Proton has never forsaken the company and continued to support the British auto/engineering group because they believed that the Lotus name is a very valuable asset.

The recent turnaround plan is probably the most ambitious ever taken by the British icon and it has the best chance of transforming Lotus from a cult track car manufacturer into a full-blossom of global sportscar maker.

Group Lotus needed the Formula One presence to create awareness and interest in their new range of cars and struck a deal with front-runner Renault and this has set the stage for a return of the Black and Gold Lotus livery

Clive Chapman said last week that the heritage of his father's racing team belongs to Group Lotus, which earlier this month announced a merger with the Renault F1 team.

"The Chapman family is looking forward to continuing to give its support to Group Lotus, which is the ongoing Lotus entity created by Colin and Hazel Chapman," a statement from Clive Chapman read. "After all, the Lotus marque is the responsibility of Group Lotus."

"During 2010, the Chapman Family...made it clear to those involved that it would prefer that the Team Lotus name should not be used in Formula 1," said Clive in a statement.

Team Lotus, which is owned by Air Asia budget airline boss Tony Fernandes is pursuing legal recourse for the use of the name and the case involving the ongoing dispute with Lotus Ventures will enter the British High Court in January.

Lotus Ventures used to belong to David Hunt, brother of late former F1 Champion James Hunt and they claim that the company owns the rights to the name 'Team Lotus' in Formula One. Fernandes bought the company from Hunt towards the third quarter of 2010 as part of his strategy to retain the Lotus name.

Changing the team Lotus name is not a simple case of filing the paperwork because if the council of F1 team owners do not endorse the name change it would mean that Team Lotus would enter Formula One as a new team and this would mean losing whatever TV rights money that have accumulated during the 2010 season.

The extended dispute will also likely scare sponsors of Team Lotus, which relies primarily on Malaysian money to operate.

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