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JUNE 28, 1999

Frustration at BAR

THERE are signs that a split is developing within British American Racing between the team management - led by CraigÊPollock and Tom Moser and technical director Adrian Reynard. The uneasy relationship between the partners has long been seen as a source of possible conflict and there were suggestions at Magny-Cours that these will soon boil over into overt conflict.

The first hint of this came on Friday in France when BAR driver Jacques Villeneuve told British reporters that his season to date had been "a real let-down". Jacques did not pull his punches, describing Adrian Reynard as "the weak link in this team".

"I expected to see a lot of him this year," said Villeneuve, "but we have hardly seen him at all and we have missed his input. He has been to one race and I have seen him for five minutes in a test - that's all. His role is supposed to be like that of PatrickÊHead at Williams - hands-on - but he just isn't here at all. It's a frustration." Villeneuve added that the team needs to have someone to take over that role.

Reynard is a 15% shareholder in BAR and supplied the team with initial technology. Now that the BAR factory is up-and-running Reynard's role is largely one of supplying staff. This includes the secondment of Reynard designer Malcolm Oastler to BAR for three years and an active involvement in the F1 team of Reynard's Rick Gorne and Adrian Reynard, who are both supposed to spend 50% of their time working with BAR.

At the French GP there were whispers that there may soon be legal action between BAR and Reynard. This would be very messy. Even if the stories of writs are not true, Villeneuve is unlikely to have made such inflammatory public statements without his mentors Pollock and Moser agreeing to the move - and that can only mean that a fight is on the way.

A split with Reynard might be useful for the team in that it will give them someone to blame for the lack of results while giving Reynard a way of getting out of the team - and getting his money back.. He would then be free to pursue his rumored long-term plan to enter F1 with General Motors at some point in the future.

We understand that if there is a split between the two parties, the Reynard shares would more than likely end up in the hands of CART team owner Jerry Forsythe, who already owns a majority shareholding in Mount Eagle Inc., a company which owns 35% of BAR. Forsythe has said that he wants to increase his involvement in the team - and he has the money to do it.