By Lori Lovely - Motorsport.com
Bridgeview, Ill. -- Having successfully launched Sigma Autosport in the CART FedEx Championship this season, Managing Director Paul Cherry has decided to seek new venues for his creative talents. He has chosen to leave the team at Christmas in order to prepare for his next role in racing. A veteran of Formula One and Champ Car racing, Cherry played an integral role in the development of the Sigma team After joining forces with Tom Wieringa, Cherry almost single-handedly formed the team by forging relationships with Ford and Lola, personally hiring all the mechanics, and persuading Dave Luff to join as technical director and Phil Howard as program director. In addition, Cherry secured sponsorship from Jack Victor, VIA Rail, and signed Oriol Servia with Catalonia sponsorship.
Wieringa says of Cherry, "He has been an integral part of Sigma Autosport. He rises to every challenge and has been very good at putting together the team. Paul has been a big asset to Sigma. However I respect his decision, and I wish him the very best."
The team, which was started from scratch nearly two years ago, proved a competitive force in its inaugural season. Servia secured seven top-ten finishes and placed 19th in the points standings. The Sigma crew earned a chance to compete in the Craftsman Pit Crew Challenge at Fontana. Points are awarded throughout the season, based on accumulated time in the pits. Structured like the drivers points system, teams do not score if their car doesn't finish. Sigma won one of the four spots in the shootout by having the best cumulative pit stops at three races this season, earning a total of 112 points.
Of all his accomplishments with Sigma, Cherry is most proud of the team's cohesion and reliability. "We had only one mechanical failure all year," he says. "They are a dedicated bunch. Ford Cosworth and Lola provided us with the best equipment to showcase our talents. On the driver, Oriol did a great job. He made no mistakes, worked well with the team, and took all the opportunities that presented themselves. He did it all on his own, too. It's a one-car team, so he didn't have anyone to compare notes with."
Cherry's legacy at Sigma consists of a building a solid platform for the team, with a good management structure firmly in place for the 2002 season. "With the sponsorship brought to the team by its new commercial director Gerard Hermsten , the team is poised for great things, and I wish them well".
An announcement about his future plans will be made by Christmas.