The latest BAR rumors

BRITISH AMERICAN RACING is to have a new commercial director shortly with the expected appointment of Les Olson who spent 18 years with Philip Morris before moving to Imperial Tobacco for which he is currently sales director for North╩America. He will replace Tom Moser who had been doing this job but must now return to his job as British╩American╩Tobacco's head of global sponsorships. The team is expected to have backing from Becks beer, the Motorola telephone company and America's BankOne next year. The deals will ease BAT's input.

There were rumors in the paddock at Spa that there is yet another power struggle going on within the team with suggestions that team boss Craig Pollock may disappear off to the CART scene in the United States. The whispers we are hearing suggest that talks are going on between Pollock and partner Jerry Forsythe about a share swap which would give Forsythe control of BAR while giving Pollock control of one of the two Forsythe teams in CART. The American multimillionaire currently controls both the BAT-sponsored Players team (running Greg Moore and Patrick Carpentier) and the one-car McDonalds Champ Car team (with Tony Kanaan). The McDonalds operation uses Honda engines and can easily be expanded while Forsythe Racing is supported by BAT's Imasco Players brand.

Our spies suggest that Pollock is more likely to get Forsythe Racing and that in the longer term this could become a Lucky╩Strike team with Jacques Villeneuve returning to America to drive there in 2001. The recent deal between the tobacco companies and the US States means that each tobacco company is limited to one sponsorship and that these must be a continuation of existing sponsorship arrangements. BAT runs several brands in CART by using its subsidiaries thus the Kool deal with Team Green is a Brown & Williamson sponsorship, the Players deal in an Imasco one and the Hollywood sponsorship of PacWest - which is expected to end shortly - is with Brazilian firm Souza Cruz. There are problems with the Players deal as the cigarettes are distributed in the United States by rival company Philip Morris which owns Penske sponsor Marlboro. Earlier in the year this created problems and Forsythe Racing had to run cars without Players livery. To add a further twist BAT is in the process of merging Imasco into the main BAT company. The result of all this is likely to be that BAT will be free to run a two-car Lucky Strike team in CART...

Forsythe is currently trying to convince McDonalds to increase its involvement internationally and if that campaign is successful we would expect to see a two-car team in CART in 2000 and a big sponsorship deal in F1. It may be that BAT might even sell its share in BAR to McDonalds. In all events the team looks likely to be run by Adrian Reynard and his longtime partner Rick Gorne.

Reynard told financial reporters the other day that he is still planning to go ahead with the flotation of his company and that one reason the IPO was called off was that BAR has not made the progress expected.

"We only own a small minority of the company," he was quoted as saying. "We had to work with others who saw things in a different light. We couldn't call all the shots."

Reynard's chief financial officer Bob Swistock added that "there has been some negative press on the BAR situation" as a result of comments made by Jacques Villeneuve.

If this does happen Pollock and BAT could be given a parachute into CART racing - while Reynard and Forsythe would get what they want in F1.

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