Thursday January 15, 2004
Endean Nearly Joined PhoenixF1
Reliable sources informed SimRacing today that PhoenixF1 very nearly signed former VWC standout Jason Endean as one of their race drivers for 2004. The deal was apparently agreed to in principal scarcely two weeks ago but unfortunately (for Phoenix) fell through when Endean couldn’t commit due to extenuating circumstances. PhoenixF1 have since settled on Adam Fretter, a very worthy choice but certainly not as much of a veteran as Endean, the former BA Racing driver and race winner. Apparently the American driver would only consider signing with PhoenixF1, another nod to the respect for Andy Graydon.
Maple Was Lined Up For PhoenixF1
Matt Maple and JTM apparently signed a contract this off-season which would have allowed the Englishman to depart the team if desired, should they not secure works Ferrari engines. Maple would have then switched to PhoenixF1 to race for the esteemed Andy Graydon. Ultimately, JTM were able to sign Ferrari unopposed and Maple will stay with the team for 2004. He confirmed his steadfast commitment to the team, but also the importance of securing the best possible deal for his own sake.
Monday January 12, 2004
EIRE Respond to Whiteman/Finance Rumours
EIRE Boss Willy Ponissi released the following press release to SimRacing today, in response to rumours about the team’s possible financial insolvency.
“Rumours published on the SimRacing magazine about Australian Scott Whiteman leaving the team after 5 races to land MMC have started some heavy talking about the future of the drivers market - with the season yet to start!
Ryan McConkey declared to the Ontario based magazine that his team would be thinking about replacing low-expectations driver Paul Sleight with the Australian hotshot, if his position at EIRE would be "too dominant". The news caught everyone by surprise, since a deal has already been reached between Whiteman and EIRE since November. However, in F1VWC we're not new to crazy driver marketing, so we asked the parts for some explanations.
Scott Whiteman met us in his villa near Sidney. He was taken by absolute surprise by the news, which he slammed soon:
"If I sign for a team I drive a whole season and I would expect the team to keep me for a whole season." were his only words before coming back to his activities.
EIRE team manager Will Ponissi was way more talkative:
"EIRE is in a slight monetary trouble, and selling our assets - drivers included - to other teams was an option we never ruled out. Obviously, Scott is our most concrete chance to aim at the championship, but the economical safety of the team comes first.
About the story of the 5-wins in 5-races? Well we haven't planned anything like that, but, come an offer we can't refuse, we'll take it into consideration. Rest assured that buyng teams should be prepared to pay a BIG BIG sum of money since he'll be quickly rated as the best driver around."
When asked if the team had received any offer from MMC's Ryan McConkey, Ponissi replied: "Ryan who?"
Rumours about a possible Whiteman departure also started rumours about a possible replacement. Names started to flow, from a possible return home of Swiss driver-on-loan Wagner to the ubiquitous Adam Fretter, but first of all Kieran Ryan, who had been considered Ponissi's natural choice since the end of last season.
The Irish team manager was quick, however, to slam the rumours.
"Ryan? He's fast and committed, that's sure, but he's not in our plans. We at EIRE want to be trouble free, and Kieran acts as a primadonna way to often. He's expensive, also. We keep him free to go wherever he wants."
EIRE will now undergo the first official test session of the year, with Whiteman, Loram, Wagner and Grooff driving in the four days.
Many other unofficial tests are supposed to be in the schedule, with drivers Ponissi and no-contract Bartalotta at the wheel.
Gazzetta della Martesana
Courtesy EIRE Press Dept.
Sleight on Thin Ice at MMC?
MMC Boss Ryan McConkey hinted today that he would be keen to sign EIRE driver Scott Whiteman, should the Australian “win the first 5 races of the season.” Whiteman has apparently suggested that he may need to move down the grid if too dominant at EIRE. McConkey was eager to stick his foot in the door, but this suggests that Paul Sleight may not have a firm hold on his race seat. Since McConkey would not likely replace himself, Sleight must be the odd man out should a faster driver come along.