Series newcomers Team Goddard and driver Sho Hanawa have been forced to withdraw from round one of the 2009 Australian F3 Championship after running into an unforeseen financial problem.
Goddard revealed that the management company representing its Japanese driver declared insolvency late last week, leaving Hanawa without the funds for the Clipsal 500 which kicks off the campaign in Adelaide this week. It is now hoped that both team and driver will be able to join the championship from round two, at Wakefield Park, on 27 April.
“The team was shocked to learn of this development, which has left us in the lurch,” team owner Mark Goddard said, “We have attempted to find a replacement driver but, at such short notice, it was not possible.
''We hope Sho will be able to resolve the problem with his management company, which will allow him to complete the season, [but] we are also investigating the possibility of running other drivers as we are extremely keen to compete in the Australian Drivers Championship, especially after investing so much time and money in our campaign.”
Formula 3 Australia chairman Ian Richards applauded Team Goddard's intent to return to the series as quickly as possible.
“It is disappointing that Sho Hanawa and Team Goddard will not be able to race in Adelaide due to factors outside their control, but we applaud and thank them for their determination to return despite this setback,'' Richards said, ''Everyone in the championship has been very excited to have them involved and we will continue to assist them where we can to help them return as soon as possible.
“Despite the temporary loss of what was shaping up to be a potential race-winning combination, the grid for the Clipsal 500 round - though smaller than usual - is of an extremely high quality, filled with new and exciting talent and should produce a very memorable and competitive season-opener.''
Richards also admitted that he expected more cars to appear as the year wears on.
“Everyone is feeling the pinch in these tough economic times and as a core group of our competitor base are self-funded business people they are naturally wary of the additional expense that could potentially be caused by a meeting with a wall on a street circuit. Because of this, we expect our fields to grow as the year progresses.
“The support from our competitor base – those racing at Clipsal and those intending to compete later this year – is outstanding and we are looking forward to another fantastic championship season.”