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Saturday December 25, 2010

Lotus founder Chapman’s family side with Proton-owned Group Lotus

LONDON: The family of the late Lotus founder Colin Chapman sided with Malaysian-owned sportscar maker Group Lotus on Thursday in a row over use of the marque in Formula One.

Clive Chapman, whose father’s cars won races and championships in the 1960s, ‘70s and ‘80s, spoke out in a statement against plans by Malaysian entrepreneur Datuk Seri Tony Fernandes to revive the illustrious Team Lotus name next season.

“During 2010, the Chapman family, as and when appropriate, made it clear to those involved that it would prefer that the Team Lotus name should not be used in Formula One,” he said. “Indeed, assurances to this effect were received.”

Fernandes entered F1 this year with Lotus Racing, a new team competing with a licence from Lotus Group and their owners Proton as well as the public blessing of the Chapman family.

Proton subsequently terminated the licence and Lotus Group have entered into a long-term partnership with the Renault team, which will be renamed Lotus Renault GP next year.

Fernandes meanwhile, bought the rights to the Team Lotus name from David Hunt, brother of the late world champion James, and has renamed his outfit – who are also powered by Renault engines and based in eastern England.

The dispute has triggered several legal actions.

Clive Chapman, who had lent Fernandes the black cap his father used to throw in the air when his team won a race, said his family had supported Lotus Racing only while the team had the support of the car-maker.

“The Chapman family was impressed by the achievements of Lotus Racing as a new team, and appreciated their respect for Team Lotus history. However, then their license to use the Lotus name was terminated and things changed,” he said.

Chapman said his family looked forward to giving continued support to Group Lotus as “the ongoing Lotus entity created by Colin and Hazel Chapman”. – Reuters

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