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The law suit that won't go away

GIANCARLO MINARDI and his Minardi Scuderia Italia partner Giuseppe Lucchini are proving to be a thorn in the side of Ligier and Mugen. The pair claim that they had a signed exclusive contract with Mugen for the supply of Mugen Honda V10 this year in Formula 1.

Mugen, however, decided that it was going to supply Ligier instead and left Minardi without an engine deal at a very late stage, over the winter.

Ligier and Mugen are obviously worried about the outcome as they went to great trouble to remove all the engines and spares from the pits at Imola when the court in Ravenna first met to discuss the law suit at the end of April.

The judge in Ravenna has since had two hearings and last week postponed his decision pending the presentation of further evidence this Friday. As soon as both parties have been heard, the judge will rule and his decision will be binding anywhere in the European Community - and that means that Ligier and Mugen may be faced with having their equipment seized at the team's headquarters in Magny-Cours, France.

The case will probably end up being settled with Mugen Honda boss Hirotoshi Honda and Ligier bosses Tom Walkinshaw and Flavio Briatore having to pay out what could easily be millions of dollars worth of damages to Minardi - which is bound to have a knock-on effect on the Ligier budget this season.

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