Caterham F1 Team announces it will race in Abu Dhabi

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Despite entering administration last month and missing the last two races, Caterham F1 Team has today announced that it will be racing at the season-ending Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Following a dispute between former owner Tony Fernandes and potential buyers Engavest, the team fell into the hands of administrator Finbarr O’Connell last month. O’Connell was tasked with finding fresh investment that would save the operation at Leafield.

In a bid to raise funds, Caterham launched a controversial crowdfunding campaign with a target of $3.7m from fan donations. With a few hours remaining, the team is 20% short of its target.

However, in a statement today, O’Connell has said that the team will be racing at the final race of the year in Abu Dhabi, and was quick to thank fans for all of their support.

“We set ourselves a major challenge, but it’s definitely been worth it,” O’Connell said. “In only a week the fans have made the impossible, possible. We knew that the best way to keep this team alive and attract possible buyers was to show that it’s still a racing team and be in Abu Dhabi for the finale, and there aren’t enough words to say how grateful we are to all the fans that have made this possible.

“We now head to Abu Dhabi ready to show what a hard-working and positive group of people this is and to hopefully secure a future for the team. During the past few days the interest of many potential buyers has increased massively and by racing in Abu Dhabi the team will be showcasing itself as a live and functioning team that deserves to continue into 2015 and beyond.

“It has hard-working people, team spirit and experience and now it only needs a secure financial future which I’m very hopeful we can achieve. Once again, I’d like to reiterate that we are racing in Abu Dhabi thanks to all the fans out there – an achievement that will go down in F1 history and one that we can all be very proud of.

“We still need to raise a bit more cash so please do keep an eye on the Crowdcube website. Let’s go racing!”

Caterham is now in line for a $40m windfall by moving above Marussia in the constructors’ championship by virtue of the Anglo-Russian team’s closure ahead of the Brazilian Grand Prix.

Questions about the team’s potential driver line-up for the race do remain, though. Regular driver Marcus Ericsson cut all ties with the Leafield operation earlier this week ahead of his move to Sauber for 2015, and given the financial nature of this attempt to make the grid, it would most probably be a case of the seat going to the highest bidder. Kamui Kobayashi does remain contracted to the team, though.

After appearing to have no kind of future just one week ago, Caterham now looks set to make a sensational return to Formula 1 in Abu Dhabi next weekend.

UPDATE 11:15a ET – Caterham has also extended the deadline for making donations to its crowdfunding project.

“The Caterham F1 Team is delighted to announce that it will be racing at the final Formula 1 Grand Prix of the season in Abu Dhabi on 23rd November thanks to the support of the fans, who have helped the team raise enough money,” a statement on the crowdfunding page reads. “But you can still support the team and get involved. The deadline has been extended to midnight (GMT) Sunday 23rd November.”

Hunter and Jett Lawrence walk a delicate balance between winning races and favoring the fans

Hunter Jett Lawrence fans
Align Media
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ANAHEIM, California – Hunter and Jett Lawrence are two of the most popular riders on the Monster Energy Supercross circuit, with fan bases that established and grew immediately when they came to America to ride for HRC Honda. Connecting with those fans came naturally for the charming Australian brothers, but it has not come without cost.

“It’s cool they’re there and it’s one of the things we try to do is give the fan that interaction,” Hunter told NBC Sports during Supercross Media Sessions ahead of the 2023 season. “It’s why we do ride days, meet-and-greets, press conferences  – all that stuff, because it’s exciting for them. We are trying to bridge the gap so they get personal interaction. Because that’s all they’re after. It’s all about getting that fan to think, ‘I know that guy. I didn’t meet him, but I get him. I get his humor.’ ”

There is no artifice in either brother. Their fan appeal is directly attributable to who they are at their core. And it’s that very genuineness that has throngs of fans standing outside their hauler, waiting for just a moment of their time.

“It’s about being yourself – talking to people,” Hunter said. “It’s not like I turn it on or turn it off; it’s just about being yourself. This is who we are, this is who you get and this is how it will be. You can’t portray something you’re not. If you keep saying you’re an orange, but apples keep popping out, it’s only a matter of time [until they figure it out].”

The key word is ‘throngs’, however. One person wanting just a few moments of time is incidental. Dozens are an entirely different matter.

“It’s tough in Supercross because it’s such a long day,” Hunter said. “The recovery side of it’s tough to do everything. We get stuck outside the grid; we can’t be there for like 10 minutes. We’re stuck there for like an hour. It gets overwhelming at times.

“You feel bad because you want to sign everything, but you’re still here for a job. Every race day is like that. We do the best we can, but there are so many people who wait out front. They’re screaming for you. Even when we’re coming off the sessions, they’re already yelling before you put your bike on the stands. You don’t even get time to take you helmet off.”

It can be a double-edged sword. Personality is only one part of the equation. A much bigger part of the brothers’ fan appeal comes because of their success. Hunter finished second in the last two Supercross 250 West title battles and third in the past two Lucas Oil Pro Motocross Championships.

Jett won the last three titles he competed for, including last year’s 250 East Supercross Championship and the last two Motocross contests.

“I think they expect me to have nothing else to do on a Saturday and that I have unlimited energy,” Jett said. “But, I’m trying to recover for the next race.”

It’s a matter of timing. Jett has gained a reputation last year for handing out hundreds of donuts before the races during Red Bull fan appreciation sessions. And after the race, once the business at hand has been settled, Jett is equally available to the fans.

“After the race it’s fine; I’ll stay behind.” Jett said. “My job is done on the racing side of things, but until that last moto is done, my main thing is dirt bikes. The fans come along with it. The fans are part of the job, but main job at hand is the racing side of things. After the race, I’ll stay there for an hour or so. It’s a lot calmer.”