JUNE 26, 1995

Simtek up for sale

THE collapse of Formula 1 team Simtek Grand Prix has been rather more dramatic than originally expected with its sister company Simtek Research also being dragged into bankruptcy. The two companies are now in the hands of receivers Touche Ross with debts of $9 million and the loss of 48 jobs. Touche Ross accountants have moved in and are hoping to sell the team as a going concern. This will have to be done this week if the team is to survive - and that doesn't seem very likely. If Simtek fails to make it to the French GP next weekend, its value plummets and Touche Ross will then probably decide to sell Simtek's assets to the highest bidders. Simtek boasts two state-of-the-art factories on the Acres Industrial Estate at Banbury, Oxfordshire. These house a high-technology, rolling road windtunnel and advanced computer hardware as well as a drawing office, fabrication shop, model-making shop and sub-assembly area.

There are a number of people believed to be interested in buying the factory and equipment, including David Richards of Prodrive, which owns the next door facility. Prodrive has F1 ambitions but currently runs the Subaru World Rally Championship teams and the Alfa Romeo team in the British Touring Car Championship. The 43-year-old Richards was 1981 World Champion Rally Co-Driver before turning to management. He has run successful teams in both rallying and touring cars, including Rothmans Porsches and Metros and BMW M3s. Another man who might consider buying the facility is Tom Walkinshaw who needs a home for Ligier in England.

As for Simtek boss Nick Wirth, he is being courted by a number of F1 teams as he has proved that he is one of the most talented designers of the new generation.