Ravetto brushes off bailiffs’ visit to Caterham factory

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Caterham team principal Manfredi Ravetto has played down the recent visit by bailiffs to the team’s factory in England, saying that there are no concerns about staff being paid or seeing out the end of the 2014 season.

Following its sale by Tony Fernandes back in July, Caterham has been facing an uphill struggle to survive despite the promise of fresh investment from the new owners. The team is currently at loggerheads with a group of its former employees, with both parties launching legal action against one another.

On Wednesday, the problems at Leafield appeared to come to a head when bailiffs visited and removed a number of goods due to outstanding debts. The team was quick to refute claims that its future was at risk, and in order to comment further on the situation, Ravetto met the assembled media in Suzuka today.

“It’s no big drama to be honest,” he explained. “It is absolutely true that bailiffs have been to Leafield, but what is also true is that the day before yesterday, since they were in Leafield, not a single screwdriver has been removed for the very simple reason that our solicitors got all the paperwork done in order to prove that it is a matter of totally different companies.

“We managed to explain to the bailiffs that we have nothing to do with the claims. Our opposition was successful and therefore, contrary to rumours that have been spread around, no server was switched off and no additional parts or equipment has been removed.”

Ravetto also said that the list of items that the bailiffs seized was wrong, with the planned auction of the items being delayed as a result of a legal challenge by Caterham.

“There was a bailiff who removed certain stuff, but this is more memorabilia than race critical parts,” he said. “They have a letter from our solicitors. So even the memorabilia belonging to 1MRT will have to be returned.

“I told you what happened, but also some other things happened that I would like to highlight. We keep paying our wages, we keep our employees happy and we keep our suppliers happy.”

Ravetto also hit out at speculation suggesting that the team had no spare parts available in Japan to fix Kamui Kobayashi’s car following his crash in FP2 at Suzuka.

“We are sorry for Kamui’s crash, which hugely damaged the car but, contrary to rumours concerning the shortage of parts here in Japan, we are perfectly able to repair the car and run it tomorrow,” he said.

Miguel Oliveira wins MotoGP Thai Grand Prix, Bagnaia closes to two points in championship

MotoGP Thai Grand Prix
Mirco Lazzari / Getty Images
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Miguel Oliveira mastered mixed conditions on the Chang International Circuit in Buriram, Thailand to win the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix. Oliveira showed the adaptability as he navigated a race that began in wet conditions and turned dry over the course of the race. Oliveira won the Indonesian GP in similar conditions.

“It was a long race, but I can’t complain,” Oliveira said on CNBC. “Every time we get to ride in the wet, I’m always super-fast. When it started raining, I had flashbacks of Indonesia. I tried to keep my feet on the ground, make a good start and not make mistakes and carry the bike to the end.”

All eyes were on the championship, however. Francesco Bagnaia got a great start to slot into second in Turn 1.

Meanwhile Fabio Quartararo had a disastrous first lap. He lost five positions in the first couple of turns and then rode over the rumble strips and fell back to 17th. At the end of the first lap, Bagnaia had the points’ lead by two. A win would have added to the gain and for a moment, it appeared Bagnaia might assume the lead.

Early leader Marco Bezzecchi was penalized for exceeding track limits, but before that happened, Jack Miller got around Bagnaia and pushed him back to third. Oliveira was not far behind.

After throwing away ninth-place and seven points on the last lap of the Japanese GP last week, Bagnaia did not allow the competition to press him into a mistake. He fell back as far as fourth before retaking the final position on the podium.

“It’s like a win for me, this podium,” Bagnaia. “My first podium in the wet and then there was a mix of conditions, so I’m very happy. I want to thank Jack Miller. Before the race, he gave me a motivational chat.”

Miller led the first half of the Thai Grand Prix before giving up the top spot to Oliveira and then held on to finish second. Coupled with his Japanese GP win, Miller is now fully in the MotoGP championship battle with a 40-point deficit, but he will need a string of results like Bagnaia has put together in recent weeks – and he needs Bagnaia to lose momentum.

Miller’s home Grand Prix in Australia is next up on the calendar in two weeks.

Bagnaia entered the race 18 points behind Quartararo after he failed to score any in Japan. The balance of power has rapidly shifted, however, with Quartararo now failing to earn points in two of the last three rounds. Bagnaia won four consecutive races and finished second in the five races leading up to Japan. His third-place finish in Thailand is now his sixth MotoGP podium in the last seven rounds.

Aleix Espargaro entered the race third in the standings with a 25-point deficit to Quartararo, but was able to close the gap by only five after getting hit with a long-lap penalty for aggressive riding when he pushed Darryn Binder off course during a pass for position. Espargaro finished 11th.

Rain mixed up the Moto2 running order in the MotoGP Thai Grand Prix as well. Starting on a wet track, Somkiat Chantra led the opening lap in his home Grand Prix. He could not hold onto it and crashed one circuit later, but still gave his countrymen a moment of pride by winning the pole.

Half points were awarded as the race went only eight laps before Tony Arbolino crossed under the checkers first with Filip Salac and Aron Canet rounding out the podium.

American Joe Roberts earned another top-10 in eighth with Sean Dylan Kelly finishing just outside the top 10 in 11th.