Minardi takes a sabbatical

Posted by Iannucci | 3/12/2008 | 4 comments »
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Cancel the Minardi name from the guest list, as autosport.com says team owner Paul Stoddart has decided against fielding the team in the IRL this season.

When asked by autosport.com, he said: "I did enough tugging round at the back to know I don't want to do it again. I had a taste of victory last year and it was very nice, so I'll just take a sabbatical and see what happens.

"I think realistically 2010 is the first opportunity for Champ Car teams to become competitive, when the new car comes."

"What happened was good for North American motorsport, it had to happen. But it wasn't beneficial for any of the Champ Car teams. In anything like this there are winners and losers and all the Champ Car teams were the losers.

(MORE from autosport.com)
A good competitive streak by Mr Stoddart is appreciated, and truthfully there are huge hurdles the CCWS refugees have to overcome in a very short time. But that being said, don't whine about not being able to win. I mean really, take a number for that line.

Losing is frustrating and knowing you're probably going to lose is taxing, but using either of those as an excuse to leave the track is weak. If you want to race, then race. Period. Besides, with what looks like eight non-ovals on the schedule this year Minardi's odds wouldn't have been all that bad to put together a few very good finishes.

I don't know Mr Stoddart or his level of pride but maybe what he says and what he means are two different things, and that like so many other would-be competitors this is ultimately an issue of insufficient funds. I do know that even with a new chassis design on the horizon that up and joining the series in 2010 is still not going to be any easier. Might as well start getting track experience and technical data now while the free basket of goodies is sitting on the table.

UPDATE: Hold the phone!

"We're taking delivery of our car today," team owner Keith Wiggins said Tuesday. "I won't deny that it's a struggle, but we're doing our best to get one car on the grid for the first race."

Wiggins, whose principle partner in the Champ Car team, Paul Stoddart, has left, will carry on with the team that doesn't even have a name yet. Stoddart took the Minardi Team USA name with him and Wiggins said he will likely go back to the team's previous name - HVM Racing.

But, whatever the team is called, he's determined to keep it going and to eventually be competitive.

"We all know it's a tough deal, a lot of scrambling because of timing and the situation," he said. "But the bigger picture is where the significance of what happened is pretty dramatic.

(MORE from Canadian Press)


  1. Fred Hurley // March 12, 2008 8:30 AM  

    A couple of thoughts:

    1.) Yeah, funding. It's GOTTA be the main reason for a team not running this year, no matter what they say.

    2.) Stoddart ran at the back of the F1 field for a while, all while working hard to help make the sport more fan-friendly, often in direct opposition to Bernie's antics. He can't want go back to back-marking, particularly if he's doing it out-of-pocket (or mostly so).

    3.) Much like Walker, I think he makes a few races, regardless of what he says no. He loves racing too much. And Doornbos seems like a guy who genuinely likes racing in America. He may have realized that while F1 is the pinnacle, it isn't the end-all, be-all. He's also a fun guy to have in the series. I think somehow, Bobby D ends up in a car this year, at least at Indy.

  2. Anonymous // March 12, 2008 9:20 AM  

    Like I mentioned on my blog, perhaps Stoddart should consider at least taking a page out of Conquest's playbook and try to strike a "technical partnership" with one of the lower-end IRL regulars. It'd help the IRL team get better with road/street racing and it'd help Minardi learn more about oval racing. Granted, track time is always the best thing to get, but if Stoddart's serious about waiting until 2010, he has to keep one iron in the fire or else he'll never catch up to the other teams in transition that will have "cracked the code" before the IRL unleashes its next-gen machine.

  3. Anonymous // March 12, 2008 9:46 AM  

    For what it is worth, AR1 has this about the Minardi Team continuing:

    "Minardi out but team to run in IRL UPDATE AutoRacing1.com has just learned that the team will continue with Keith Wiggins as the team principal. As we understand it the team already has a Dallara in the shop and are preparing it for Homestead. Paul Stoddart's press release was to let people know that the Minardi brand won't be present. We hear the team will issue more info at some point today."

    So maybe a presence in the IRL afterall. Who knows ????

  4. Johnny // March 12, 2008 9:55 AM  

    The Doornbos thing was a partial pay to play via Red Bull though, so he was not guaranteed to even run the CCWS this year. As of a week before the merger leaks, he was still unsigned.

    I have the utmost respect for Stoddart, especially in his efforts to fix F1 and take Ron Dennis down a notch or two, but I kind of have to agree with Jeff on this issue. With Surfers still on, he can find funding to run at least 1 car and learn the tracks until the new cars are out whenever.