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Decisive week for Jaguar, Jordan

Alan Baldwin | November 09, 2004 10:58 IST

Jaguar and Jordan have just one week left to secure their Formula One future before a deadline for entries to the 2005 season.

However sources close to both teams, one looking for new owners to prevent closure by Ford while the other seeks an engine deal, were optimistic on Monday neither would disappear.

"We are fully confident that everything will be in place and that we shall be participating in the 2005 world championship," Jordan's director of commercial affairs Ian Phillips told Reuters.

Jordan have been talking to Toyota and Phillips said last month an agreement was close, although a Toyota team spokesman on Monday was unaware of any imminent announcement.

China's Shanghai Daily also reported last week that team boss Eddie Jordan had flown to Beijing to meet potential backers for his team.

Jaguar Racing would not comment on the state of negotiations, conducted by sponsor HSBC, for the sale and renaming of their Milton Keynes-based operation but sources said the prospects were good.

Austrian entrepreneur Dietrich Mateschitz, owner of energy drink company Red Bull and a team sponsor as well as a backer of rivals Sauber, remained the main focus.

"We are still talking," Red Bull motorsport boss Helmut Marko told Autosport magazine last week. "There is an offer on the table, as there was before."

SHOCK DECISION

Both teams have endured weeks of speculation following the shock decision in September by Ford, who own Jaguar and supplied Jordan and Minardi with their Cosworth engines, to pull out of the glamour sport.

Teams must sign up for 2005 by close of business next Monday, although the governing International Automobile Federation (FIA) said that date was not absolutely final.

"November 15 is the deadline for entries but entries can be accepted afterwards on condition that every team agrees," a spokesman said.

Teams might have reason to do that, given that the failure of any team now will oblige the remainder to make up the numbers on the grid -- a costly measure that will force some teams to run three cars.

Jaguar sources argued Ford would not have continued spending some $2 million a week on keeping the team going after the end of the season without good reason.

Ford also have every interest in keeping the door open to the last. The Financial Times newspaper recently estimated the carmaker could be liable to up to $450 million in closure costs should they fail to find a buyer.

Jaguar, who have some 330 employees, have continued working on their 2005 car since the end of the season on October 24 and plan to test this month with Austrian Christian Klien and Swedish reserve driver Bjoern Wirdheim.

Tail-enders Minardi were also supplied by Cosworth last season and expect to continue using units provided by the company once it is sold. Otherwise they say they will use old engines of their own.

American Champ Car part-owner Kevin Kalkhoven has been identified in the media as the most likely purchaser of Cosworth to secure a continued engine supply for that U.S.-based series.


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