The IZOD IndyCar Series has announced how it will be sharing out the proceeds from the championship's commercial income in 2012, including TV rights and sanctioning fees.
The money will go to teams registered to run a full 2012 season, with the top 18 cars based on the 2011 points standings set to receive an estimated $1.2m each in subsidies from the Leaders Circle program.
Sebastien Bourdais (who has moved to Dragon Racing for 2012) and Ed Carpenter (now with Ed Carpenter Racing) were also selected to receive funds based on those teams' strong presentations to series officials, while the remaining pot - almost $2.5m - will be shared out to the rest of the cars based on their finishing positions during the forthcoming season.
Among those set to lose out on guaranteed funding are Katherine Legge (Dragon), Alex Tagliani (Bryan Herta Autosport), Charlie Kimball (Ganassi), Takuma Sato (Rahal Letterman Lanigan) and Josef Newgarden (Sarah Fisher Hartman Racing.)
The decision to share out the funds in this way has raised concerns over the viability of Michael Shank Racing's bid to launch an IndyCar program in 2012, and team owner Michael Shank has admitted that he is facing "definite challenges" if he's to be able to launch MSR Indy in 2012.
Shank had expected to be included in the Leaders Circle program in order to get a large portion of the necessary funds to enter the 2012 IndyCar season, but the announcement this week leaves his team with a major gap in its finances.
"We're still fighting and scrapping,” Shank told reporters when asked whether he was looking likely to make the grid at St Petersburg next month. “I'm not about to give up yet."
It's estimated that an IndyCar team needs a budget of around $6m to field a car for a full season. Shank is in discussions with driver Paul Tracy, who it is thought can bring almost $2m with him in sponsor backing in exchange for a race seat. The team will also have its own budget of around the same amount, but losing out on the $1.2m Leaders Circle program will leave Shank a long way short of sufficient funds for a full-season campaign.
Shank is also seemingly having problems securing an engine deal for his fledgling team. Despite claiming to have secured a Lotus deal when the formation of MSR Indy was announced in Las Vegas last October, it seems as though negotiations have since fallen through.
Lotus has never publicly confirmed or even hinted at a likely engine deal with the team. Meanwhile Honda and Chevrolet are thought to be at or near their capacity for supplying teams for the upcoming season and are unwilling to take on any more team commitments, which would leave Shank without anyone to supply his team with an engine in 2012.
With only six weeks to go until the start of the 2012 season, and with major question marks hanging over the money, driver and engine aspects of MSR Indy, time is fast running out for Shank and his would-be IndyCar team.