JANUARY 4, 2001
The departure of Rick Gorne from BAR
RICK GORNE's departure from British American Racing will probably very little effect on the team. Gorne spent the 1999 season in the role of Race Operations Director but in January 2000 was pushed into the nebulous role of being BAR's "motorsport development director". At the time Gorne's move was seen as defeat for Gorne's employer Adrian Reynard and two months later Gorne announced that he was quitting the Reynard company completely. He switched from being seconded to BAR to being employed by the team. His departure from Reynard was significant for more than anyone Gorne had been responsible for Reynard's success over the previous 20 years. On several occasions he saved Reynard from going out of business and then as the company grew he masterminded the sales of first Formula 3, then Formula 3000 and finally CART cars. His success in this field resulted in him being named commercial director of BAR when it was established but during the team's disastrous first season it was decided that he should have a more active management role. This helped to contribute to the improvement in 2000.
Gorne's undoubted talents as an administrator, salesman and motivator have not gone unnoticed over the years but his loyalty to Reynard seemed to be unbreakable until March. Since then he has kept a low profile but has clearly been in discussions with other organizations as there have been a series of rumors about his future. Initially it looked as though he might be the answer to BAR's political problems, as he seemed to inhabit the middle ground between Reynard and his rival for control of the team Craig Pollock. Pollock's gradual tightening of his grip on the team and Reynard's fading fortunes left Gorne with no real future within the BAR empire - and he recognized it.
In the summer there were suggestions that he might go into business building cars of his own, with backing from wealthy American team owner Bruce McCaw of PacWest (who also has a shareholding in Mo Nunn Racing). Later there were hints that he might be taken on by Lola and then suggestions that he could be involved in a Prodrive takeover of the Reynard company.
Gorne's decision to leave BAR suggests that he has now decided on his new career path. All he will say at the moment is that he is leaving to develop "other business interests within the industry" while also developing new business beyond motorsport. Gorne has played a key - but low-key - role as a driver manager over the years and has played an important part in the career of CART Champion Gil de Ferran.
But while Gorne may be saying that he is leaving F1 behind, it is unlikely that he will be away for long. Much of the ambition of the Reynard company was his and that will not have gone away. It is likely that sooner or later Gorne will be back in F1 in one form or another. However, having watched those around him at Reynard becoming very rich without making vast amounts of money himself, it may be that he will chose to set up his own business (or at least be a big shareholder in a new operation). It is unlikely that this will be in F1 but Gorne's influence is CART is strong and he may use this to build up a company which could one day make a move into Grand Prix racing.
At 46 years of age, Gorne is still relatively young in terms of F1 team owners. Of the current crop only Pollock (44) and Alain Prost (45) are younger. Most of the other teams bosses are now in their fifties with Sir Frank Williams (58), Peter Sauber (57) and Tom Walkinshaw (54) leading the way.
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