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.

Bill Elliott joins Tony Stewart/Ray Evernham SRX series for 2021

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NASCAR Hall of Famer Bill Elliott became the eighth driver to join the Superstar Racing Experience, the short-track series being started by Ray Evernham and Tony Stewart.

The two-time Daytona 500 winner and 1988 NASCAR Cup Series champion was inducted into the NASCAR Hall of Fame in 2015 and was voted NASCAR’s most popular driver 16 times (his son, Chase, has received the honor the past two years). Elliott also closed his full-time Cup career driving for Evernham’s Dodge team from 2001-03, winning the 2002 Brickyard 400.

“I am excited to reunite with Ray Evernham and some of the great legends of our sport,” Elliott, who joins Stewart and Bobby Labonte as NASCAR Hall of Famers in the SRX, said in a release. “I look forward to racing at some of the most historic American racing destinations and putting on an awesome show for the fans. We have a special driver field and it will be fun competing with some of the greatest drivers of all time.”

The series, which is expecting to have a dozen drivers, also has Tony Stewart, Helio Castroneves, Bobby Labonte, Paul Tracy, Tony Kanaan, Willy T. Ribbs and Mark Webber in its lineup.

SRX was co-founded by NASCAR Hall of Famers Stewart and Evernham and was unveiled July 13.

Several drivers have expressed interest in the new circuit, which is modeled on the International Race of Champions (IROC) series that matched drivers from various auto racing disciplines in equally prepared cars for an annual four-race series for 30 years.

With the addition of Bill Elliott, Superstar Racing Experience has yet to reveal a schedule or tracks, but it’s expected that Stewart’s Eldora Speedway will be on the slate.