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Timing issues cast doubt over Monte Carlo

10 January 2012

The ongoing saga surrounding the World Rally Championship has taken a fresh twist after it emerged that North One Sport – which lost its deal as series promoter after its parent company went into administration – has made an attempt to prevent vital timing equipment from being used on the Monte Carlo Rally.

Stage One Technology, which provides the timing and tracking systems for the WRC, has sent equipment to Valence ready for the start of the event next week but has now been contacted by lawyers representing North One Sport who are attempting to prevent some of the equipment from being used.

It is the latest part of a legal battle between Stage One Technology and North One Sport centered around the fact that North One Sport currently owes a 'substantial sum of money' to the timing company, who in turn had said they would seize equipment owned by North One Sport but which was useless without the expertise of Stage One Technology to run it.

In an attempt to ensure that the Monte Carlo Rally can go ahead as planned, Stage One Technology managing director Simon de Banke has written to North One Sport to suggest a compromise deal which would see his company pay North One Sport £10,000 for the equipment and then turn itself into a non-profit organisation which would donate its profits to charity.

The full open letter can be read in full below:

THE FIA WRC – LET'S DO SOMETHING POSITIVE:

As I write, the WRC Timing and Safety Tracking System are en route to Valence in order to assist in providing the results for the millions of fans around the world, and the safety tracking to help protect the competitors and spectators on the icy mountain stages of Rallye Monte-Carlo.

Parts of this system used to belong to North One Sport, and the dedicated team at Stage One Technology has developed and operated it for you, diligently and quietly for the last 10+ years.

As you know, Stage One Technology is owed a substantial sum of money by North One Sport which has put the jobs of the passionate S1T team, and those of its suppliers on the line. When it became clear that it was unlikely we would be able to be paid, we gave you notice that we would seize the timing and tracking systems in order to at least allow us the opportunity to continue to trade should the worst happen and you were unable to find a firm offer to buy NOS before time ran out.

Time did run out. And as far as we know, no firm offer was put in front of the FIA, although I can still understand how upset you would feel that in the final hours a very credible buyer seemed to be close to a deal.

As far as we are concerned we have completed the process of seizure of the assets for non payment and are satisfied we have a greater right to title to/possession of the equipment than any other party.

This morning we have received a letter from your lawyers indicating that you intend to use every legal means necessary to try to stop the systems being used in Monte Carlo. I expect you are fully aware of the consequences, should this happen.

Unlike North One Sport, North One Television / All 3 Media and Hacker Young, Stage One Technology is a small, independent company which employs a team of people – most of which have worked on the WRC systems for most of its ten year history – who don't care about the politics or the commercials. We just want to get the job done, and play our part in making the WRC all it can be.

The systems are valueless to you. There is only one team of people in the world who knows how to turn them on! Only two human beings alive who know how to repair them when they go wrong. These people are part of our team. Even if you managed to switch the systems on, they don't actually do anything without critical software which was developed by, paid for and is owned entirely by us. In short, these systems are of absolutely no value to anyone other than Stage One Technology. It would fetch only scrap value on the open market, as it simply doesn't do anything on its own. It would be like trying to sell a blank Excel Spreadsheet – of course it could be very useful if it were filled in with formulae and functions, but it isn't – it's blank!

Whilst I will fight to the death to protect my amazing, humble, diligent, professional and hard working people, I do not care to personally profit from this disappointing situation.

So without prejudice to our current position that we are the party with the best claim to the equipment, I make NOS the following proposal. If by 1pm today (10 January 2012), you write to confirm you will not seek to assert any right, title or interest over these (valueless to you / the creditors of NOS) systems, and that you will not seek any kind of damages against Stage One Technology or it's associated companies, staff or directors relating to their continued use and possession of the equipment, I pledge to turn Stage One Technology into a 100% non-profit organisation, which will put absolutely every penny of its profits into worthwhile causes, such as the incredible Make A Wish foundation, to give kids who's daily routine make everything we're dealing with now seem like a weekend in the Bahamas, the chance to ride in World Rally Cars, meet their heroes and fly to exotic places to experience the same excitement and passion you've had the enormous privilege to witness first hand for the last 10+ years whilst also making an incredible living.

And in addition, we will, subject to us successfully using the equipment in Monte Carlo without interference, pay you £10,000 for this equipment – which is entirely valueless to you, except as scrap value.

I feel terrible for the staff you have lost and the many lives that have been affected by this terribly regrettable situation. I sincerely hope you will join us now in allowing something extraordinarily positive to come out of all of this, and leave behind a generous legacy to the fans and supporters of the World Rally Championship.

It is in your power to make something good come out of all of this. The staff of Stage One Technology, and I await your response.

Simon de Banke


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