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SEPTEMBER 27, 1999

Action coming at British American Racing?

THE board of directors of British American Racing is due to meet on October 6 and our spies tell us that there may be an attempt at the meeting to have another management reshuffle. The team has spent the whole season reshuffling frantically with the trend being for tobacco industry executives to take over from racing people, strengthening BAT's control of the team. One of the few men left standing is chief executive Craig Pollock and the suggestion we have heard is that the Scotsman may be in the firing line when the BAR board of directors next meets.

The board of the BAR holding company consists of Pollock, US racing magnate Jerry Forsythe, Reynard's Adrian Reynard and Rick Gorne and four BAT executives: Jimmy Rembiszewski, Don Brown, Antonio de Castro and Antonio Rodrigues. Any alliance between Reynard and BAT could see Pollock removed from his position. There have long been suggestions that Gorne would be the man most likely to take over as chief executive but in recent weeks we have also heard the name David Richards being mentioned in connection with the team. Richards is not obviously in the new Jaguar Racing structure, nor does there appear to be a role for him at Sauber but he may be in the running for a position at BAR as he has long enjoyed strong links with the tobacco giant: not only with his 555 Subaru rally program but also with Rothmans (now a BAT subsidiary). It is a little-known fact that it was Richards who first convinced Rothmans to take a serious involvement in motor sport - a program which led to the famous Rothmans Ford rally team of 1979-1981, the abortive F1 program with March in 1982 and the Rothmans Porsche sportscar and rally programs which followed.

Richards is unlikely to become involved in BAR unless he is offered equity and it will be interesting to see how this problem is resolved. At the moment BAT owns 50% of the team, Forsythe owns 35% (with Pollock owning a small percentage of that) and Reynard owning the remaining 15%. Reynard is, however, rather a powerful player as it convinced Honda NorthÊAmerica to agree to supply the team with factory engines in 2000.