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Jaguar Racing and Gaydon

OUR spies within the Ford Motor Company suggest that the company is on the verge of buying the Rover Group's testing ground at Gaydon in Warwickshire. The site includes vehicle testing laboratories, test rigs and the advanced Rover Design and Engineering Centre. The 26,000 sq. meter facility was opened in March 1997 and cost BMW $40m. It houses design offices built above large workshops. We have heard suggestions that the building could be used to house the Jaguar F1 team, Cosworth Racing and any other Ford motor sport activities planned (such as the Ford World Rally Championship team and a planned sportscar operation).

Gaydon has the added advantage of featuring test tracks and proving grounds with a total length of 35 miles. This would fit Ford's idea of having a motorsport "campus" with all the necessary testing facilities (including a test track and rally stages).

Gaydon is located alongside the M40 motorway between Banbury and Warwick. It is close to Jaguar's headquarters in Coventry and about 30 miles from the current Jaguar and Cosworth F1 factories. A wartime bomber training station, Gaydon was the home of Britain's nuclear squadrons in the 1950s. It is well-protected and screened from the outside world.

Ford is in the process of buying a variety of Rover assets from BMW (including the Land Rover brand) for around $3bn and Gaydon is expected to be included in that deal. It would be a very quick way for Ford to acquire a facility to match that of Ferrari's Maranello complex. There would be plenty of space (and no planning permission problems) for the Jaguar Racing windtunnel which we understand has been commissioned and will be designed and built by the US consultant engineering company Sverdrup, which specializes in advanced research centers and test facilities for the aerospace and automotive industries, notably for NASA and the US Air Force.

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