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Former Team Lotus boss, David Hunt, brother of 1976 world champion James Hunt, has finally spoken out over the row over the naming rights of Team Lotus.
Over the course of the Singapore Grand Prix weekend, following month of speculation, Tony Fernandes confirmed that from 2011 his team would be known as Team Lotus - the iconic name forever associated with Colin Chapman's legendary outfit.
According to Lotus Racing, Tony Fernandes and Kamarudin Meranun's Tune Group had acquired Team Lotus Ventures Ltd, the company led by Hunt since Team Lotus was last on track, and through that agreement now had full ownership of the historic rights and goodwill of the Team Lotus brand and heritage.
However, Malaysian car manufacturer Proton - which owns Group Lotus - was none too happy claiming that it owned the rights to the Team Lotus name and accordingly began legal proceedings.
As the squabble continues, with talk of two teams using the word Lotus in their name next year, in an interview with Peter Windsor for Theracedriver.com, David Hunt attempts to shed a little light on te row.
Asked about Proton's claim that they are the "owners of this (the Team Lotus) brand and will take all necessary steps to protect it" and that, until 1994, Group Lotus and Team Lotus were under common ownership, with common directors, and that Team Lotus, under his ownership, has never raced, and that his ownership is ineffective, Hunt replied: "I was infuriated by that because I view it as libel.
"They're basically saying that I have been lying for the past 16 years," he continued. "All these claims are complete nonsense. If Team Lotus was under common ownership and control, how come the Chapman family sold it to Peter Collins in 1991? Why were Group Lotus a third-party sponsor of the Lotus F1 cars during Collins's tenure? And why did they stand by while the Administrators then sold it to me and my partner in a sale that was completely under the jurisdiction of the British High Court?
"Nevertheless, for the first couple of months after we purchased it, rumours were being spread that we didn't own the name Team Lotus. This was obviously a concern to Group Lotus and a potential nuisance to us and Group therefore decided to clarify the issue by writing to us and apparently everybody else they could think of who might have had some interest in the Team Lotus property, including the Chapman family and Peter Collins. They asked anyone who thought they had an ownership claim to set it out in writing. The only respondents were us, and our lawyers set out the rights we had acquired in full to Group Lotus. Group then thanked us and gave everyone on the list a second chance to comment and then invited us to a meeting so that we could start working together - them as Group and us as Team, just as it had been in the Chapman and Collins eras before.
"At no point did Group say that they felt they themselves had any claim on any Team Lotus property, and as far as I'm aware from that date until the day after the Singapore Grand Prix this year they have never suggested that we did not own Team Lotus. So for Group now to claim that they've always owned Team Lotus is pure fantasy.
"Beyond that, we did two races at the end of 1994 - Japan and Australia - under our own ownership and control, so that part of the Group statement is completely untrue as well. We even gave Mika Salo his first F1 race, for Pete's sake!
"The truth is that Group Lotus has never competed in F1, never built an F1 car and never owned Team Lotus. They've always been separate companies - as is common practice in F1, as well as being common sense. Colin Chapman always wanted to protect Lotus Cars from the insurance and accident problems that can affect a race team and of course he was and is not alone in this respect."
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