Supreme Court of Victoria dismisses Sauber appeal; van der Garde legally wins (UPDATED)


1:40 a.m. ET (UPDATE): The Supreme Court of Victoria has dismissed Sauber’s appeal, which means Giedo van der Garde has legally won his case to race in this weekend’s season opening Australian Grand Prix.

The Court said it saw no error in the reasons of the trial judge, and the appeal is dismissed.

10:45 p.m. ET: All of the lawyers for Sauber, Sauber’s two planned drivers Felipe Nasr and Marcus Ericsson, and 2014 Sauber reserve driver Giedo van der Garde have made their cases in the Supreme Court of Victoria, in the ongoing dispute over who will drive in this weekend’s Australian Grand Prix.

A decision will come down Thursday afternoon at 4:30 p.m. local time in Australia, which translates to 1:30 a.m. ET Thursday morning here in the U.S., 12:30 a.m. CT and 10:30 p.m. PT on the west coast.

The decision on Thursday comes after van der Garde won his court case Wednesday that he be allowed to drive in the Grand Prix. Sauber appealed and testimony from all parties was heard today.

Per veteran F1 journalist Adam Cooper (@adamcooperf1) and Melbourne 7 news reporter Kate Jones (@kate_jones7), both of whom followed the proceedings as they happened, Sauber’s lawyer took the stand first before the respective lawyers for Nasr and Ericsson, and lastly van der Gardes.

Sauber has argued that it would need two weeks for van der Garde to have a seat ready to go, and also that the Dutchman would need a Superlicense, the process of which would also take too long. Per Cooper though, the judges were already giving Sauber’s lawyer a hard time during that testimony:

A point of evidence raised was that van der Garde won the first judgment against Sauber on December 3 and thus Sauber should have ample time to prepare for the follow-up.

Per Jones, Sauber’s lawyer also thought whatever decision would only affect Australia, and not the remaining Grands Prix this season, but the judges disagreed.

Once it came time for the lawyers for Nasr and Ericsson to stake their case, the judge said Sauber has left them in a tough spot as they’re two drivers with contracts, and van der Garde would have a third.

Per Jones, Van der Garde’s lawyer argued for his client that Sauber had already breached Swiss order by nominating new drivers and telling the FIA his contract was terminated. Van der Garde’s lawyer said he has worked all his life to drive in F1 and with the length of time taken to make a ruling, his chances of racing this weekend are slipping away.

On another note, as of now, Sauber team principal Monisha Kaltenborn is set to be part of the team principals press conference this weekend in Melbourne.

Add that to the ongoing legal proceedings and the saga continues.

March 28 in Motorsports History: Adrian Fernandez wins Motegi’s first race

Leave a comment

While auto racing is an international sport, oval racing remains uniquely American. 

That almost always has remained the case since the inception of the sport, but in 1998, the citizens of Japan got their first taste of American oval racing.

Having opened the previous year, Twin Ring Motegi was built by Honda in an effort to bring Indy-style racing to the Land of the Rising Sun. 

Adrian Fernandez was the first driver to win at the facility, taking the checkered flag in CART’s inaugural race after shaking off flu earlier that day.

Fernandez held off a hard-charging Al Unser Jr to win by 1.086 seconds. The victory was the second of his career and his first since Toronto in 1996.

Adrian Fernandez celebrates with Al Unser Jr and Gil de Ferran after winning the inaugural race at Motegi. (Photo by Robert Laberge/Getty Images)

The race was also memorable for a violent crash involving Bobby Rahal.

Running third with 15 laps remaining, Rahal’s right front suspension broke in Turn 2, causing his car to hit the outside wall and flip down the backstretch.

Luckily, Rahal walked away from the accident without a scratch.

“The car was on rails through (turns) 1 and 2, and all of a sudden it just got up into the marbles, and it was gone,” Rahal said. “Thank God we’ve got such safe cars.”

The following season, Fernadez went back-to-back and won again at Motegi. The track remained on the CART schedule until 2002.

In 2003, Honda switched their alliance to the Indy Racing Leauge, and Motegi followed suit.

The track continued to host IndyCar racing until 2011 with the final race being held on the facility’s 2.98-mile road course, as the oval sustained damage in the Tōhoku earthquake earlier that year.

Also on this date:

1976: Clay Regazzoni won the United States Grand Prix – West, Formula One’s first race on the Long Beach street circuit. The Grand Prix would become an IndyCar event following the 1983 edition of the race.

1993: Ayrton Senna won his home race, the Grand Prix of Brazil, for the second and final time of his career. The victory was also the 100th in F1 for McLaren.

Follow Michael Eubanks on Twitter