The United States Grand Prix's new home is facing yet another legal battle after it emerged that former 500cc motorcycle world champion Kevin Schwantz has filed a suit claiming that he had been cut out of an agreement to promote a proposed event at the Circuit of the Americas
Schwantz, who won his world title in 1993, acted as a consultant on the design of the circuit, before heading up 3FourTexas MGP, which closed a ten-year deal with championship promoter Dorna and circuit founder Tavo Hellmund to stage a MotoGP race in Austin from 2013. Although Hellmund is already out of the picture at CotA, Schwantz's suit names both the circuit and president Steve Sexton, claiming that there was a conspiracy to cut 3Four out of the deal.
"Many of you have been asking about the status of MotoGP in Texas, and I wanted to share this statement," the 48-year old Texan wrote on his Facebook page.
"I have devoted over 25 years of my life to MotoGP, the premier motorcycle road racing world championship. I spent four of those years bringing MotoGP to Texas, my home state. As a result, MotoGP agreed in 2011 to host an annual race at Austin's Circuit of the Americas track.
"I'm sorry to say that COTA is now attempting to unlawfully force me out of this project. I believe COTA has committed fraud in doing so. Earlier today, I took legal action against COTA. I was forced to file this lawsuit in order to protect my rights, my reputation, and MotoGP itself.
"I want to see MotoGP come to Texas, but I cannot allow COTA to take advantage of me. More important, I will not sit idly by while a newcomer to racing discredits the sport I love.”
According to Autoweek
, the suit itself confirms that 'COTA and Steve Sexton wanted the MotoGP race, but did not want to have to pay 3Four as the promoter. So, while purportedly negotiating with 3Four, COTA was actually scheming to side-step 3Four and deal directly with Dorna so it could pay less by cutting 3Four out of the picture. Through tortious interference and fraud, COTA and Sexton encouraged Dorna to breach and purportedly terminate 3Four's agreement to avoid the obligation to pay 3Four. 3Four sues for what it is owed as the exclusive promoter of MotoGP in Texas.”
Schwantz's gripe is clearly with the circuit and its management, as neither Dorna or chief executive officer Carmelo Ezpeleta were named as defendants in the case.
F1 is due to arrive at CotA, which continues to edge towards completion, for the penultimate round of the 2012 world championship in mid-November.