Tiago Monteiro has confirmed his acquisition of the BCN GP2 team ahead of the 2009 season.
The former Formula One driver, now contesting the World Touring Car Championship with SEAT Sport, will take control of the team alongside businessman Jose Manuel Guedes, who has spent the ten years working as part of Monteiro's management team.
"This is a step I have always wanted to make in my professional career but I would have never imagined taking it this early,” Monteiro admitted. "We had the opportunity and we worked on the financial aspect of the project, then we started negotiations.
"The management of a race team is fascinating because not only do you need to have a good knowledge of what can happen on track but you also need to have some skills in the business. The GP2 Series is the ideal platform because it is very close to Formula 1. Its popularity and competitiveness is on the rise. After careful consideration we think this project could be a springboard that is perfectly adapted to our ambition of promoting Portuguese motorsport beyond its frontiers."
The team will now be renamed as Ocean Racing Technology, with Monteiro and Guedes having already started work on putting together the inner framework of the team. The new structure will be in place for the next round of the GP2 Asia Series campaign in Dubai with negotiations ongoing with a number of drivers who will be tested during the Asia series ahead of the regular 2009 season.
"The team is under construction but our organization will soon be complete," he said. "We are gathering a group of professionals who have to have a bank of knowledge and quality because we are well aware the GP2 Series is one of the most competitive championships. We are hiring people we know, who have proved they're good at what they're doing in F1, GP2 or other international championships.
"The GP2 Asia series will be a warm up for the main series where we will operate with the full team. We have a lot of work ahead of us but the motivation is as big as this project is as we know it is a very important one. We know the identity of the drivers is something people would like to know. I can simply tell you that there is no obligation for them to be Portuguese even though it is a possibility. At this step of the team's construction, the most important thing is to make the right choices."
The team has yet to finalise where it will be based, with a number of European locations under consideration including the new Algarve circuit, which will join the GP2 calendar next season.
"We have carefully studied several sites and it is clear the International Autodrome of Algarve offers all the conditions to host a GP2 team and that it is a powerful tool perfectly adapted to its needs," Guedes said. "But our structure is diverse and our people come from various countries and several other sites could be potential candidates. The finale decision will be made over the next few days.
"GP2 has gained enormously in terms of acknowledgement and benefits with very good feedback that investors can compare to Formula 1. The fact that the championship is run in parallel with F1 allows the project to benefit from an extraordinary visibility which makes our responsibilities even bigger. It is a demanding championship but the costs are controlled and the level of performance is high and very well balanced between the teams. The championship proved its potential thanks to action packed races with TV coverage on the rise."