APRIL 12, 1999
BAR chasing a Honda deal again?
BRITISH AMERICAN RACING is rumored to be trying to convince the Honda Motor Co. that it should give up the idea of running its own team and supply engines to BAR. The management at Honda is believed to be studying proposals from BAR, Jordan and the British-based Honda Racing Developments operation.
HRD remains the favorite to land the deal because Honda has already dominated Formula 1 as an engine manufacturer and returning in a similar role would break no new ground. Trying to win building both chassis and engines is a much bigger challenge but it is one which fits the company's tradition of making progress using competition. The HRD plan is an expensive risk but is strongly supported within the top management, although some of the more cautious Honda decision-makers would rather save money and hedge their bet by being only an engine-supplier.
Jordan is hoping that, whatever happens, Honda will decide to continue to supply it with V10s. This would enable the Japanese carmaker to have a benchmark for its own chassis.
To date BAR management has been ambitious - if a little naive - and it should be remembered that Craig Pollock has strong Honda connections, having worked for the Interhoba Group in the 1980s. This was owned by a friend of Soichiro Honda and looked after many of Honda's interests in Europe.
There are also strong links between Honda, Reynard and British American Tobacco in CART racing, notably with Team Kool Green (Kool is a BAT brand) which is running Dario Franchitti and Paul Tracy this year.
The major problem for BAR is that it has a deal to run Supertec engines next year. This deal is very expensive for the team and the engines are not very competitive. The contract with Supertec may be terminated early but that will involve the team having to pay compensation of around $8m to Supertec.
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