JULY 31, 1995
It's decision time at Ligier
WITHIN the next 10 days, Ligier team boss Tom Walkinshaw will know if or how much money he is to receive from the French Gitanes Blondes company in 1996. The company which owns the cigarette brand has just been reorganized by its president Jean-Dominique Comolli; but there is to be a meeting about F1 plans within the next few days, at which the SEITA will decide if it is to continue in F1, and, if so, what its plans will be. If the decision is not made, there will be no word until September as the French holiday season is beginning and business in France will stop as the executives take to the beaches.
Walkinshaw wants an answer as soon as possible as he has to decide whether to take up his 1996 option with Mugen Honda - which runs out at the end of August. The price tag for the Mugens is now $7 million and Mugen boss Hirotoshi Honda was in Hockenheim for talks with Tom.
French sources suggest that there will be no Loto money, and that the budgets from Elf and Gitanes will be substantially reduced, leaving Tom with the problem of finding money. There have been a few rumors linking the team with Australian beer company Fosters, while Walkinshaw is also trying to attract money by planning to give some youngsters a run in an F1 car. These will include Frenchman Jeremie Dufour, who races British F3 with the Ligier Junior Team, and Rickard Rydell, who drives for Tom in a Volvo in the British Touring Car Championship.
The ownership question at Ligier has still to be sorted out between Walkinshaw, Flavio Briatore, Guy Ligier and the Benetton family.
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