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iSport exit confirmed as Russian Time signs up
4 March 2013
The iSport International team will be absent from the GP2 grid for the first time in the series history, after completing a deal to sell its two Dallara GP2/11 cars to a new team called Russian Time.
"I am pleased to welcome Russian Time to the GP2 Series," said the series CEO Bruno Michel on Monday morning. "I am certain that they will be a great addition to our field."
The principal of the new team will be Igor Mazepa, who said this week how happy he was to be heading up the latest team to compete in the feeder series.
"It is one of the most prestigious categories in motorsport," he said. "We're looking forward to this first season and hope to add many more to it!"
Reports that iSport were looking to exit the series after failing to secure sufficient funds to finance competition in the whole of the upcoming 2013 season first surfaced at the end of February.
iSport team principal Paul Jackson had said that there was "no point in committing commercial suicide" by trying to stay in GP2 with insufficient backing, and that his priority was to save the rest of iSport business and turn the squad's focus toward competing in other, less costly championships.
"We did not find drivers to negotiate contracts with that would have enabled us to ensure participation," Jackson had told specialist German motorsports site
. "My company has no sponsors in the background that can close a shortfall of 500,000 euros."
Michel was appreciative of Jackson's attempts to handle iSport's exit from GP2 in as least disruptive way as was possible in the circumstances.
“I would like to take this opportunity to thank iSport International and Paul Jackson for eight great seasons in GP2 and wish them all the best for the future," said the series CEO.
The late development had come just days before all the GP2 teams were set for their first three-day pre-season test at the Circuit de Jerez in Spain, which iSport pulled out of attending.
That left any potential replacement team with very little time to agree uy-out terms for iSort's GP2 assets and make it to the second and final test opportunity which starts tomorrow at the Circuit de Catalunya in Barcelona. However, Bruno Michel was confident that the new team and its principal were up to the formidable task ahead of them.
"Igor Mazepa has already put in place a team of staff with some great GP2 experience which will help them be able to be on pace very quickly," he said.
For his part, Mazepa was under no illusion just what a steep mountain the new Russian Time team faced in its scramble to be ready for the season opener in Malaysia on March 23.
"We know that it will be a challenge to be quickly on par with the other teams, but we have managed to put together a group of people whose experience in GP2 will be invaluable," he said.
"We are pretty confident that we will do a good job from the get-go," he insisted, confirming that they would indeed be running at this week's three-day testing sessions. "We cannot wait to start running with the car this week in Barcelona."
Although currently based in Germany, Russian Time is the first Russian team to compete in the GP2 Series since it was founded in 2005, with iSport among the founding members. The new entrant has not yet named the drivers who might be working with them in this week's test sessions.
Russian Time will be the third rookie team on the GP2 grid in 2013 after an unprecedented turnover of teams over the offseason. Scuderia Coloni exited at the end of 2012 over unspecified disagreements with the series organisers, while Ocean Racing Technology was forced to quit in January because of financial problems. Two new teams, MP Motorsport and Hilmer Motrosport, have already taken their places on the starting grid for the 2013 season.
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