Weigl Group poised to save Super Aguri, for now

A joint statement released Friday by Super Aguri F1 Team and Weigl Group AG said the two are in "final discussions" concerning the German automotive engineering services company stumping up cash to secure a "substantial shareholding" in the ...

A joint statement released Friday by Super Aguri F1 Team and Weigl Group AG said the two are in "final discussions" concerning the German automotive engineering services company stumping up cash to secure a "substantial shareholding" in the foundering race team.

"We are happy that we have been able to resurrect talks between Super Aguri F1 Team and Franz Weigl at such short notice and to have the opportunity of presenting the Weigl Group to the Honda Board once again," Super Aguri principal Aguri Suzuki said. "Such a partnership as the one proposed by Weigl Group will allow us to race for the foreseeable future, and I am hopeful that all parties will find the Group's offer a realistic package."

Franz-Josel Weigl, CEO of the company founded in 1979 as Weigl Metalltechnik, said, "Weigl Group has decided to speak out openly at this decisive time for Super Aguri F1 Team. We would like to express sincere support for the team's participation in the Formula One World Championship and the Group's, together with its sponsors and partners, earnest intention to provide ongoing investment to secure the team's future."

Weigl Goup is an automotive engineering services group that provides automotive construction and machine building services. In March, the Group began acquisition of GM Powertrain-Gearbox Operation.

Suzuki, the most successful Japanese F1 driver whose team owe creation to Honda Motor Co., needs the approval of Honda's governing board to proceed. After supplying engines and technical support to Super Aguri to get a team up and running in 2006 as a platform for driver Takuma Sato, Honda has determined it cannot continue supporting Super Aguri.

Super Aguri cut a quarter of its 120-member staff through the winter after sponsor SS United failed to pay as agreed last season. Like Scuderia Toro Rosso, whose founder Dieter Mateschitz has listed his half of the Italy-based team for sale, Super Aguri faces a 2010 rules edict that every F1 team construct its cars. Super Aguri began life with a 2002 Arrows chassis and upgraded to a cast-off Honda chassis that last year made the minnows competitive with the factory team.

Weigl's immediate cash infusion could further the team's progress this season without securing its future. Honda is said to favor a full buyout.

Super Aguri's best marketing angle is the Japanese market. By late season 2006, The Little Team That Could proved more popular than its factory backer at their home grand prix.

Other interest in the team is said to come from Spain, where Alejandro Agag and Adrian Campos might be interested in a buyout. Swiss publication Motorsport Aktuell suggests talks with the GP2 team co-owners that stalled earlier this year might be back on. Spanish companies Repsol and Telefonica are seen to want an all-Spanish team on the F1 grid.

Buyout talks with Dubai investors fronted by Magma Group, an assortment of Englishmen associated with the auto industry, failed in mid-April. That failure left Super Aguri scrambling for Honda support to appear on the grid in Spain. Now the Leafield, England, team is running out of time to have equipment shipped to Istanbul, Turkey, to contest the Turkish Grand Prix on May 11. Racing at Istanbul reportedly requires $3 million.

Be part of something big

Write a comment
Show comments
About this article
Series Formula 1
Drivers Takuma Sato , Aguri Suzuki , Adrian Campos
Teams Toro Rosso , Super Aguri F1