CHAMPCAR/CART: IRL: Cosworth changes hands

In January of this year, when they were awarded the assets of the former CART series, principals Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi declared their intent to put their money where their mouths were. Today Kalkhoven and...

In January of this year, when they were awarded the assets of the former CART series, principals Kevin Kalkhoven, Gerald Forsythe and Paul Gentilozzi declared their intent to put their money where their mouths were.

Today Kalkhoven and Forsythe went a step further as they announced the purchase of the assets of Cosworth Ltd. in the United Kingdom and Cosworth Inc. in Torrance, CA. In so doing, the pair confirmed that Cosworth engines will power the new Red Bull [nee Jaguar] team in FIA Formula One and will also supply Minardi with appropriate power mills.

Still, this duo's emphasis has to be on securing and promoting the Champ Car World Series that they own, together with the Atlantic ladder series owned by their company, Open Wheel Racing Series. To that end, Kalkhoven met with the media, together with Richard Parry-Jones, Ford Motor Co. group vice president for global product development and chief technical officer, along with Tim Routsis, Cosworth's managing director.

Parry-Jones, who has been charged with the sale of both the Jaguar F1 team and with the assets of Cosworth on both sides of the Atlantic Ocean immediately expressed his pleasure at the outcome, which needed to be revealed today on the final date to submit entries for F1 competition next year.

"I personally am absolutely delighted by Kevin and Gerry's purchase of Cosworth," Parry-Jones declared. "They have a tremendous history in the sport. Ford, through Cosworth has a 35-year history in Formula One and it was a tough decision to sell off the assets. Ford-Cosworth has a rich legacy in the sport and has powered the most famous drivers and teams in F1," he continued.

Declaring his interest in the company from the standpoint of a business investment, Kalkhoven intimated the discussions he had with Forsythe generated excitement for both investors. Recognizing that Cosworth is "one of the most successful engineering companies in the world, we began to realize we could secure its future legacy" by making this purchase.

From the Formula One side, Kalkhoven and Forsythe both expressed pleasure at the Red Bull buy out of the former Jaguar F1 team that began as Stewart Grand Prix in the middle of the past decade.

Cosworth's success in the North American Champ Car World Series over the past two years as it served as a spec 2.65-liter turbocharged engine for the former CART enterprise, "Cosworth has proven an outstanding engine offering significant horsepower. This is an engine that has produced close, competitive racing in the Champ Car World Series," Kalkhoven declared.

The new Cosworth owners have plans for the company on both sides of the ocean and, particularly in the United States intend to tap into the tuner market's consumers who are "dedicated to improving their motor cars," Kalkhoven stated. "We will provide tuner access through Cosworth which is, itself an icon in motorsports." A new look at marine applications is also on the horizon.

Routsis, the current managing director of all Cosworth activities will stay on the job along with the near 600 workers who produce and maintain Cosworth engines worldwide. "This sale has been distracting for our organization as we struggled with uncertainty over our future. I have been delighted with the performance and professionalism of our entire staff at Cosworth and find their activities inspirational," under the weight" of future employment uncertainty.

"We intend to maintain and strengthen our position in the motorsports world," Routsis continued, "and you may expect ongoing announcements for expansion of the Cosworth brand."

Kalkhoven did take the time to confirm that Cosworth will continue its cooperative venture with Chevrolet for the coming 2005 Indy Racing League IndyCar Series season. "There will be no interruptions," he said. "We have a contract in place for the 2005 season," and Cosworth intends to fulfill that obligation.

The Champ Car World Series will continue to be powered by Cosworth for the foreseeable future, Kalkhoven intimated but he did not discuss the future of the engine specifications beyond the 2005 season. "We will strengthen our association with Ford from a philosophical level," he said.

While admitting he's not great with philosophy, Kalkhoven did confirm that his newest company has "an interesting situation with regard to open wheel racing. It's a significant two-edged sword where financial support by a manufacturer is significant, especially when it disappears.

"The deliberate approach is to work with a single manufacturer to provide entertainment as well as sport" to the open wheel arena. "Entertainment," Kalkhoven declared, "comes from close, competitive racing and the driver more than the manufacturer can rise to the top. Teams can come in such as RuSPORT with A.J. Allmendinger and rise to the top as they did in this year's Champ Car World Series."

Routsis expects expansion of the facilities in Torrance. "We may continue to do some of the design work in the UK but we're sure to look for manufacturing and distribution in each target market," such as the North American tuner and marine marketplaces.

The WRC Cosworth engine that met success to the end of the 2004 season will have continued support from Cosworth. We intend to support the WRC Focus and maintain and distribute engines. We're working to punch out terms of a deal for Cosworth to develop an '06 engine for the series," Routsis explained.

While Parry-Jones indicated there was a great deal of interest in both Jaguar F1 and Cosworth, the intent of Ford's sale was always to secure the future of both endeavors. Looking for a good future, the company chose Red Bull and the pairing of Kalkhoven/Forsythe to bring their cars and engines forward in the future. "These gentlemen will be great custodians of a fantastic company."

The question of ladder series engines was broached as the Toyota/Atlantic Championship has a 2005 contract with Toyota Racing Development but nothing beyond that time. The Atlantic series, after all started in 1974 with the BDA Cosworth engine and a return to Cosworth power mills is not out of the question after the coming season.

"We have a contract with Toyota for 2005 and we'll examine the 2006 season," in due course "with a number of manufacturers. At this time," Kalkhoven intimated, "it is tough to say what we'll do with the Atlantic series."

Kalkhoven recognizes the efficacy of Cosworth and its history: "Cosworth has a truly wonderful heritage of engineering that we have great respect for. We want not only to continue on from that great tradition but also move into the future with new projects and new ideas. There are many new markets we want to develop."

Today's hand-over of keys to the Cosworth legacy is only the start of Kalkhoven and Forsythe's future as company owners. "There are many new markets we want to develop," according to Kalkhoven.

Forsythe added: "We intend to continue working with automotive manufacturers around the world on an even more expansive basis than Cosworth has in the past."

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Series AUTOMOTIVE , F1 , INDYCAR , WRC

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