F1: Litespeed is latest team to declare entry

By LJ Hutchins

CalendarThursday, May 14th, 2009

 
 

Norfolk-based F3 team Litespeed is the latest to declare that it plans to apply for a 2010 entry to the Formula One championship – with a little help from Mike Gascoyne.

According to the series’ official website, the team has joined forces with asset management company MGI Ltd – whose chairman is Gascoyne – in hopes of being one of the 13 teams chosen for the new championship.

Litespeed, which draws on more than 25 years of racing experience, has close connections to Lotus Engineering and is owned by Steve Kenchington and Nino Singh Judge, race engineers for Ayrton Senna and Mika Hakkinen respectively.

Judge, who is team principal, said: “Potentially, there will never be a better time to enter the F1 arena.

“The FIA has so far not only been bold in introducing the budget cap, but has evidently thought out the long-term prospects of this globally captivating sport.

“There is space and a need in the arena for independent teams and the technical leeway given to the budget-capped teams allows for a competitive performance within the financial parameters.”

He said that he was delighted to have MGi and Gascoyne, a former technical director at Jordan, Benetton and Toyota, on board.

“Their expertise, experience and understanding of potential pitfalls are invaluable to any team to which they put their name and professionalism.

“MGI will be working to Litespeed’s brief and will act as technical consultants to the team.”

In 2005 Litespeed bought the rights to Italian car manufacturer ATR’s former SLC R1 Euroseries chassis in order to develop its own racecar with an eye to becoming a manufacturer – resulting in the Litespeed R1, which they describe as “potentially the best F3 car on the grid.”

The stated aim was to win first British F3’s National and then its International class, with the goal of breaking Dallara’s dominance as a car supplier and establishing Litespeed in that role instead.

And F1 ambitions have also been a standing goal. Interviewed in October last year by racinginside.com, Judge said: “As a team and a company, we will then look to the next challenge, which of course will be F1.”

The team ran its first competitive season in 2008 and felt it had achieved some encouraging results, despite being described by Judge as essentially a test-run – including a podium finish at Brands Hatch on its second outing.

This year Litespeed is competing in the National class with 19-year-old Brazilian Victor Correa at the wheel, but is not yet making much of an impression.

After four rounds he has amassed 35 points with three third places, a performance that has him at the bottom of the standings in a field of four.

Litespeed has also recently announced that it is running Jay Bridger’s International class Mygale for the rest of the 2009 season.

Applications for the 2010 Formula One championship close on May 29 and the FIA will announce the names of the 13 successful applicants on June 12. Litespeed believes it can have the basis of a F1 chassis ready by mid-June.

One driver to have already tested the R1 is Robbie Kerr – but the team’s website makes the following offer on its drivers’ page: “Litespeed F3 is actively seeking funded drivers for the 2010 season and/or 2009 half season/testing.”

Which means a top-flight opportunity could be about to come knocking – for someone with enough cash.

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