COMPROMISE REJECTED, AS TEGA MOVES ON HRT BREACHFind a legitimately independent owner or face oblivion: that was the clear message to the rule-flaunting Holden Racing Team today, as V8 Supercar officials took their strongest stance yet against the premier outfit.
The team now has until June 1 to meet the sport's entry criteria, the first definitive deadline set by a Touring Car Entrants Group (TEGA) board quickly losing patience.
HRT remain in breach of the sport's ownership rules after Holden bailed out TWR Australia, the umbrella company for Holden's factory racing assault, from its bankrupt British parent.
Neither Holden nor rivals Ford are allowed to own a V8 Supercar team.
And with Holden's latest ownership proposal rejected, an audacious plan to transfer assets from Holden Limited to the closely aligned General Motors Australia, TEGA Chairman Kelvin O'Reilly today declared HRT's stay of execution was fast coming to an end.
"The agreements that TEGA holds with teams that compete in the series provide the board with an absolute discretion to withhold its consent to the sale or sub-licensing of racing entitlements to an entity controlled by a company which is a vehicle manufacturer," he said.
"We have exercised that discretion.
"Holden have stated that they intend to sell the licenses but at this time TEGA is not convinced that they are acting in a timely fashion."
HRT face immediate expulsion from the series, with O'Reilly committed to terminating their licence without a satisfactory outcome.
O'Reilly said the shotgun sale of TWR Australia to Holden pre-season went through without TEGA approval.
"TEGA's pre-emptive rights to purchase the licenses were also denied us through Holden's purchase arrangements with the receivers of TWR International," he said.
With Holden clearly reluctant to look outside the garage for a new owner, series champion Mark Skaife has now been lined up to buy his contracted team in a consortium possibly including team bosses Jeff Grech and John Crennan.
Skaife has not ruled out an investment in the team, but said he was concentrating on his driving duties.
Holden was not commenting on TEGA's latest decision today.
And they're likely to have more difficult questions levelled at them in the coming weeks, with the continuing investigation into the ownership of the three teams aligned with the TWR operation.
Team owners are restricted to holding two franchises (four cars), leaving the futures of the Kmart Racing Team and Paul Weel Racing (Team Brock) also in doubt.
While the teams maintain their autonomous stance, allegations of cross-team talk between HRT's Grech and Kmart Racing driver Greg Murphy during the recent race at Phillip Island has put the issue firmly back on TEGA's agenda.
"The TEGA Tribunal has commenced its investigation into the concerns that TWR Australia may have or have had simultaneous interests in HRT, Kmart Racing and Paul Weel Racing - a total of six cars that compete in the championship," O'Reilly said.
PWR, transformed this season under the guidance of touring car legend Peter Brock and current championship leader Jason Bright, has been unable to test this year due to the ongoing dispute.
They face similar licence suspensions as HRT, with owners in breach of the rules facing a minimum two-year ban from the sport.
--V8 WIRE (Jason Whittaker)
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