The future of PPI Motorsports could be decided in the next few weeks as team owner Cal Wells seeks a replacement for driver Cristiano da Matta and a deal with Ford for engines.

Although nothing has been confirmed the strong rumour in the Houston paddock was that the highly-rated da Matta was already on his way to Newman-Haas for 2001, despite having signed an extension to his deal with PPI. It is also understood that the Brazilian could link up with current engine supplier Toyota at his new team, a condition of the deal that sees him leave Wells' midfield outfit.

Insiders speculated that da Matta's departure as much signalled the demise of PPI's CART involvement as it did his own with the team, but Wells is adamant that nothing has been decided. What is known, however, is that the team is seeking to tie up a deal for Ford power next season, suggesting that it is keen to continue its CART-NASCAR dual operation for at least another year.

If that happens, however, the two operations will continue to operate from their separate bases, and not combine in Caroline as suggested, but Wells hopes to run a two car CART programme with an as yet unnamed driver teaming up with current series rookie Oriol Servia.



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