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Tuesday, May 6, 2008

Super Aguri done

Aguri Suzuki announced today the Super Aguri F1 Team is ceasing racing activities with immediate effect.

“In order to realize my dream to become an owner of a Formula One Team, I applied for a grid position in the FIA Formula One World Championship in November 2005," said Suzuki. "Since then, I have participated in the championship for 2 years and 4 months as the Super Aguri F1 Team, but regretfully I must inform you that the team will be ceasing its racing activities as of today."

The team were left scrambling for backers after a proposed buyout by the Magma Group, backed by Dubai International Capital, fell through last month. It was able to race in Spain with assistance from Honda, but it was clear that had been a one-time option.

Suzuki had currently been working on a deal with the Weigl Group, but comments earlier in the week by Honda Racing's Nick Fry seemed to indicate the parent company did not see it as a workable solution.

Super Aguri had been in a difficult situation since midway through last season, when its title sponsor defaulted. Rule changes also helped put the team's future into question.

"The breach of contract by the promised partner SS United Group Company Limited resulted in the loss of financial backing and immediately put the team into financial difficulties," Suzuki said. "Also, the change in direction of the environment surrounding the team, in terms of the use of customer chassis, has affected our ability to find partners."

Drivers Anthony Davidson and Takuma Sato are now left without rides.

Super Aguri was formed in 2005 with the assistance of Honda to appease Japanese fans and create a seat for Sato, whom Honda Racing had replaced with Rubens Barrichello for the 2006 campaign.

Against the odds and in just a few months, the team was on the grid for the first race of 2006 using old Arrows cars acquired from Paul Stoddard.

Arrows had ceased operations in 2002 in similar circumstances, and the former Minardi boss Stoddard had acquired the cars in auction.

Super Aguri modified the chassis, strapping in a Honda V8, and by the end of 2006 had begun to show promise.

2007 brought brief success, and saw Sato maturing into a team leader. His memorable pass on Jenson Button at Spa probably didn't help relations with the parent team any.

Financial problems became evident in the off season, however, when Super Aguri skipped winter testing.

The situation came to a head this week, with the team's transporters and motorhome locked out of the Istanbul paddock, and the cars locked up in Honda's Brackley headquarters.

"With the help of Honda, we have somehow managed to keep the team going, but we find it difficult to establish a way to continue the activities in the future within the environment surrounding F1 and as a result, I have concluded to withdraw from the Championship," Suzuki said. Don't miss the top stories of the day, subscribe to the SpeedRead Web newspaper now! -- Email SpeedRead -- Learn more about author C.D. Six

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