JULY 17, 1995
What is Walkinshaw up to?
TOM WALKINSHAW continues to pursue his aim to become Scotland's answer to Enzo Ferrari. Walkinshaw, who controls the Ligier F1 team, recently hired ex-Cosworth engine designer Geoff Goddard to work for the TWR empire and there has been considerable speculation that Tom is looking at building his own F1 engines in the future.
There is sound business logic behind the idea. If Walkinshaw builds engines and has them badged by a manufacturer it would help Tom raise the money necessary to run his racing program without the need to raise vast amounts of commercial sponsorship, which is hard to find at the moment.
Walkinshaw is in the process of building a vast new corporate and research and development facility on a 30-acre site at Leafield, near Witney. This will be finished by the autumn and the plan is for it to house a variety of TWR engineering projects. TWR personnel have been busy trying to play down the importance of the new factory in relation to Walkinshaw's F1 activities but we hear that a well-known ex-F1 team manager is currently involved in advising on the layout of the facility - which suggests that a part of it will be used to house the Ligier operation. There is no doubt at all that Walkinshaw is recruiting F1 engineers to work for Ligier in England. Tom has made little attempt to disguise the fact he is recruiting but is confusing everyone by talking to a large number of engineers at the same time, thus disguising his true intentions. We hear that he has talked to Arrows's Alan Jenkins, Nick Wirth of Simtek, American Gordon Kimball, Sauber's Andre de Cortanze, and Benetton's Ross Brawn and Rory Byrne.
The TWR Group already has the facilities not only to build F1 engines but also to do most of the necessary composite work through its TWR Astec offshoot in Derby which already does a lot of the Ligier carbonfiber work. The staff at Ligier in France remains demoralized as to the future because it is becoming increasingly clear that there is not much hope of a long-term future for the troops at Magny-Cours.
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