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.
“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.”
“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.
Chase Sexton stumbled in San Diego and Eli Tomac had a hard fall in Anaheim 2, but the Monster Energy Supercross numbers for Houston suggest they will continue to be the ones to beat in Houston. To do so, they will have to turn back challenges from another pair of riders who have swept the top five in the first three rounds and another with a worst finish of sixth.
There are reasons to believe Webb and Roczen can keep those streaks alive.
Webb is the only multiple winner at Supercross’ current Houston stadium. His pair of wins came in 2019 and 2021, the same year he won his two 450 championships.
Clinton Fowler points out this week, that Webb has carried that strength into 2023. Webb had a late surge in Anaheim 1, advancing from fifth to second in the final six laps. In San Diego, he set his ninth fastest lap with two to go and his eighth fastest on the final lap. He posted his fastest lap of Anaheim 2 on Lap 12 while the rest of the field did so on Lap 6 on average.
By comparison, Tomac set his 14th fastest lap on the final circuit in route to winning the Main at San Diego while he was trying to keep Webb at bay.
With a sixth at San Diego, Dylan Ferrandis barely missed sweeping the top five in his first three races as did Tomac with a sixth last week at Anaheim 2.
This will be the 46th year Supercross has visited Houston and with 55 races the city is tied for the second-most with Detroit.
Webb won most recently in 2021 in the final race of three held there that year as the series executed a strategy of racing in residencies to limit travel during height of the COVID-19 pandemic. Tomac and Justin Barcia also won in Houston in 2021.
Two privateers have started the season on a high note.
Joshua Cartwright and Joshua Varize have each made the last two Mains. Cartwright finished 18th in San Diego and 21st last week in Anaheim 2 – all while working fulltime as a Business Intelligence Analyst at the University of Texas, Dallas. Varize earned a top-15 (12th) in San Diego and was 21st in Anaheim 2 in his third season on a 450.
The numbers show none of the active 250 Supercross East riders have won in Houston, so no matter who steps on top of the box, there is going to be a fresh face. That is not surprising since most of the top competitors have not raced at this venue yet.
Michael Mosiman has a pair of top-fives there, however. His best finish was a second in the second 2021 race. Garrett Marchbanks scored a top-10 in his rookie season of 2019 in Houston.
In the 250 East division, Hunter Lawrence is one of the favorites to win the title now that Christian Craig has moved to 450s. Last year he had four wins and nine podiums, but failed to set a fast lap in a race.