Caterham owner dismisses sale rumors

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Caterham F1 Team owner Tony Fernandes has spoken out to silence rumors that he may be set to sell the team after it has failed to meet his expectations.

Although the tycoon did admit that he expected Caterham to be running in the midfield by now, he believes that the team has come too far to simply walk away.

“We went in with our eyes wide open and we are too far down the line with Caterham so, no, I will not be leaving,”  Fernandes told Sky Sports. “It’s not about winning the world championship for me, it’s about building a car, which has always been my dream and that’s progressing quite well.”

The team has beaten closest-rivals Marussia in all three of its active seasons, but the tables may have turned in 2013 as the Anglo-Russian team currently sits P10 in the constructors’ championship. However, with Charles Pic and Giedo van der Garde impressing of late for Caterham, they could be set to re-claim this position in Monaco this weekend. Fernandes is pleased with the progress that the team has made, and he is keen on it continuing in the coming years, even if they are not meeting his early expectations.

“If we had just continued on our normal path we probably would have been in the midfield by now, so we’ve learned the hard way. But on the business side it’s done everything I wanted it to.

“I also think we’ve the right people now, but would I say we are 100 per cent where we want to be? No. We’ve a nice facility in Leafield and we’re going in the right direction.”

Fernandes refused to make too wild a claim and set his sights on a world championship any time soon, but he is hopeful that Caterham could yet score some points in the next season or two.

“I’m not saying we are going to be world champions any time soon, but I do believe if we continue this way then we have a good chance of progressing.”

NHRA: John Force-like motor explosions get contagious during Sunday’s Gatornationals

Photo and video courtesy NHRA
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John Force is rubbing off on others – but probably not the way they or he would like.

The 16-time NHRA Funny Car champion has had spectacular motor explosions in each of the first three races of the new NHRA season, including during Friday’s qualifying for this weekend’s Gatornationals.

During Sunday’s quarterfinals of eliminations, Force’s teammate (and son-in-law and president of John Force Racing) Robert Hight squared off with fellow Funny Car driver Matt Hagan.

As the duo closed in on the finish line, both cars experienced spectacular motor explosions of their own – virtually side-by-side and nearly at the same time.

Hight’s car was the first to explode, tossing its body high in the air. A split-second later, Hagan’s car exploded, also sending the body flying.

Check out the NHRA video:

Hight wound up losing the race.

Hagan, meanwhile, and his crack pit crew rolled their backup car off the hauler, put in a new motor and went on to race through the semifinals and into the finals, losing to race winner “Fast Jack” Beckman.

“We had a pretty great race day, to be honest,” Hagan said. “I’ve never been to the finals in Gainesville.

“We obviously had a huge blow up in the second round, then to watch these guys pull the other car back out and put it together in the amount of time they had, then turn a win light on against Capps (Don Schumacher Racing teammate Ron Capps in the semifinals), then to be able to go to a final, it was huge and it speaks for itself.”

As for Hight, here’s his take on what happened with the motor explosion:

“I couldn’t see (Hagan) over there and it wasn’t like it was hazing the tires or anything else. As it turns out it wasn’t spinning at all. It kicked two rods out when it blacked the bearings in the crank then it hit the valves and blew up.

“The thing gave me no indication at all before that. What really scared me was once I got it under control and I look over and see his body is off his car. I am thinking ‘Oh man, he got gathered up in me.’ Then I stood up and looked and his injector was sideways so I realized he had an explosion as well. We are just lucky we didn’t get into each other.”

As for the guy who has had so much trouble in the motor department, John Force, he lost in the first round of Sunday’s eliminations to daughter Courtney Force.

John Force planned on shutting the motor off on his car at around the 700-foot mark of the 1,000-foot dragstrip, not wanting to risk another motor explosion – even though it meant a likely loss to his daughter.

Now John Force and his entire four-car team, including Courtney Force, Robert Hight and daughter and Top Fuel driver Brittany Force, will be off for extensive testing to try and determine what’s been causing the motor explosions.

“We have to evaluate it and go test,” Force said. “We’ll figure it out.”

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