Derrick Walker has confirmed speculation that erstwhile Champ Car business partner Craig Gore could be taking both his financial input and star driver Will Power to rivals KV Racing this season, leaving the ex-pat Scot high and dry - and without the backing to run in the IndyCar Series as planned.

Walker had been the first team to commit to switching codes as talk of a merger between the US' two principal open-wheel series swirled, but now finds himself having to concentrate on a Formula Atlantic programme in an effort to retain as many employees as possible. Over the past three seasons, he and Gore had run the improving Team Australia programme, latterly with Power, who came close to adding the 2007 CCWS title to his 2006 rookie of the year honours. Despite the Australian entrepreneur selling off his V8 Supercar interests at home, the Team Australia campaign was confirmed to continue - although it now appears to be doing so somewhere other than with Walker Racing.

"Mr Gore owes a fair amount of money to this company and he told me he wanted to be part of this team again 2008," Walker told speedtv.com, "It's very sad because the Team Australia concept was working and now this impacts a lot of good people. I've had loyal people with me for 17 years and we were building something good with Will and Simon [Pagenaud]. I feel bad for Will, because he likes our environment and didn't want to leave, [and it's the] same for Simon."

While Pagenaud appears set to accept a sportscar ride back in Europe for 2008, Power is heavily rumoured to follow Gore to fellow Australian Kevin Kalkhoven's KV Racing camp. Walker, meanwhile, has resignedly closed the door on an IndyCar entry this season, and will concentrate on running his existing programme in the Formula Atlantic series.

"I've been keeping this thing going for the last four months, because I thought we could work things out," he sighed, "But I finally ran out of time and money [and] had to pull the plug.

"Tony [George]'s Leaders Circle Programme and the free equipment is very generous, but it was still going to take $3.5 to $4 million per car for a limited programme and you would need all that. We have two IRL cars in our shop and the boys just finished up one of them and had it painted in Team Australia colours, so we were looking pretty good for the tests next week at Sebring and Homestead.

"I dropped the bomb on my team Friday and it was the toughest thing I've ever had to do. Everybody was shocked, to say the least, because I had been optimistic we were going to get sponsorship. My goal would be to come back to IndyCars in 2009."

Walker currently runs three cars in the Atlantic series, and says he may expand if it helps keep his workforce employed, but cast questions over the future involvement of Nigel Mansell's sons Greg and Leo, despite both taking part in this week's group test at Laguna Seca.

"It remains to be seen whether Nigel's sons will continue with us because there's a lot of uncertainty about the Atlantic series," he admitted, "Nigel and I had talked about running one or both of his sons in Champ Car in a year or two, but I don't know if he's interested now that it's the IRL.

"We're hoping to get some answers and my goal would be to run four Atlantic cars to keep as many people going as possible. I'm also going to Mexico to check on the A1GP series and see if they need any personnel because this team's biggest asset is its people."

 

Comments

Loading Comments...