Caterham has confirmed that technical director Mark Smith has left the team with immediate effect, and has been replaced by a new three person ‘technical committee’ that will manage the backmarker squad.
The triumvirate will comprise of John Iley (Head of Performance Engineering), Jody Egginton (Head of Design and Manufacturing) and Gerry Hughes (Head of Track Operations). They have been tasked with improving Caterham’s fortunes as the team continues to fight with Marussia at the back of the field.
They will work under the guidance of team CEO Cyril Abiteboul, who thanked Smith for his work at Leafield.
“I would like to thank Mark for his time and dedication to the development of our team since he first joined in 2011,” Abiteboul said in a statement. “We and Mark part company on good terms and with our best wishes for the future.
“It was obviously a tough decision to see someone of Mark’s calibre go, but we have identified the need to restructure as a key aspect of increasing our on-track performance and forming a new Technical Committee composed of John, Jody and Gerry will allow us to do exactly that.”
The senior management at the team is known to be disgruntled with the lack of success on track, and team owner Tony Fernandes has threatened to walk away from the sport unless Caterham’s fortunes change.
“We are not happy with our current performance levels,” Abiteboul said. “John, Jody and Gerry, with my full support and that of our shareholders, staff and partners, are the right people to help take us forward.”
Drivers Kamui Kobayashi and Marcus Ericsson will be hoping to outqualify the Marussias during qualifying for the Spanish Grand Prix later today.
Gabby Chaves is set to return to the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship at Watkins Glen International later this month.
The Columbian-American driver, who last competed in IMSA in 2016 – with the DeltaWing outfit – will sub for the injured Joao Barbosa – he hurt his wrist in a cycling accident earlier in June – in the No. 5 Mustang Sampling Racing Cadillac DPi-V.R in the Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen.
Chaves will partner Filipe Albuquerque and Christian Fittipaldi in the No. 5 Cadillac.
Chaves expressed gratitude for being asked to fill in, but kept his enthusiasm muted, noting that he is getting the opportunity ultimately because another driver got hurt.
“The first thing is of course that you never want to have an opportunity because someone got hurt, so this is an unfortunate circumstance with Joao having his injury,”said Chaves. “But I appreciate the opportunity to join the championship-leading team. Mustang Sampling Racing has had a strong start this year and hopefully I can help the team continue to have those kinds of results.”
Chaves added, “I love Watkins Glen, it is a great track and I am looking forward to racing the Cadillac Prototype there. I’m excited to be going back to endurance racing. With different classes all racing at the same time, there is a lot for the driver to deal with as you work through traffic. So I am looking forward to racing at the Glen again, and I really appreciate this opportunity with Mustang Sampling Racing.”
Chaves’ most recent IMSA event was the 2016 Sahlen’s Six Hours of the Glen, when he finished seventh in the Prototype class.
The No. 5 Action Express Cadillac currently sits tied with the sister No. 31 Whelen Engineer Racing Cadillac of Eric Curran and Felipe Nasr atop the IMSA standings, though Barbosa’s hopes of a driver’s championship are set to take an enormous hit with him missing Watkins Glen.