OCTOBER 23, 2000
No word from Mugen...
THE Mugen Company had been expected to make a big announcement about his plans for the future at Sepang but the only news came in a bizarre press statement which indicated that the company has not been able to do a deal with Honda but is still in the process of negotiations and hopes to be able to supply engines in F1 next year. There had been speculation that Mugen might be trying to do a deal with Asia Motor Technologies to get hold of a supply of V10 engines which could then be rebadged as Mugen. This has been denied. The only other potential source of engines for the 2001 season would be some kind of a deal with Toyota to run prototype versions of the Toyota engines so that they would be well developed by the time Toyota was ready to enter F1 in 2002. This may sound an odd suggestion given that Mugen is owned by Hirotoshi Honda but it makes a great deal of sense. The increased restrictions on testing in F1 mean that new manufacturers coming into F1 will be at a great disadvantage because of the limited time available for tests. Renault is known to have accelerated its engine program when news of the testing bans emerged.
The mention of Satoru Nakajima in the Mugen statement is also rather odd. Nakajima is trying to help Tora Takagi rebuild a Formula 1 career with backing from PIAA. Both men are said to be very close to Toyota and according to our sources are trying to put together a deal in CART next year for Takagi to partner Roberto Moreno at Patrick Racing, using Toyota engines with the long-term aim of switching to F1 in 2002.
There are several ways one can read the statement including as a warning to Honda that Mugen might start working with Toyota.
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