OCTOBER 17, 2005
Leafield and the Honda B team
Our spies in Japan are reporting that the much-vaunted second Honda team will be based at the old Arrows factory in Leafield, Oxfordshire. The 30-acre site was acquired in May 2003 by Menard Inc, the company run by home-improvement billionaire John Menard, a great fan of racing who has been involved in the sport for more than 30 years. The plan was to use the facility to run an automotive consultancy business. At the moment that world has very tight margins and it may be that Menard will be willing to do a deal with the Japanese behind the second Honda team, which might even result in Menard having a presence on the car. The Leafield facility was built to house the TWR empire in 1995 and became the home of the Arrows F1 team. It features autoclaves, clean rooms, research and development laboratories, models shops, patterns shops, fabrication and machine shops, dynos for engines and transmissions and race team facilities. Much of the smaller equipment was sold off when TWR closed down but there is certainly enough left to make Leafield the obvious place to set up a new team.
It is worth noting that former Arrows commercial director Daniele Audetto turned up in the paddock in Shanghai and it is believed that he will be involved in helping the Japanese to put a team together. Audetto previously ran the Lamborghini Formula 1 operation.
The funding appears to be in place and the only real question is whether it is logistically possible to build the cars in the time available. The deadline for entries is November 15 and so Aguri Suzuki and his backers will need to move quickly.
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