Fans the real losers in A1 money squabble

27/09/2006
NEWS STORY

Whatever one's thoughts regarding the inaugural A1 GP championship, one cannot deny that one of the true stars was Jos Verstappen. The Dutch former F1 racer has a loyal army of fans that follow their hero around the globe, waving their flags, sounding their air horns and clumping around in clogs.

The organizers of the series were so impressed with the level of commitment shown by Dutch fans that they scheduled the second season to kick off at Zandvoort, the former F1 track and spiritual home of Dutch motor racing. The Dutchies responded by buying up tickets in their thousands, ensuring - months in advance - that the race would be a sell-out.

Now, just over 48-hours before the first race of the second season, Dutch fans awake to the news that Verstappen is out of the Dutch team, to be replaced by Jeroen Bleekemolen.

The official press release issued by Team Netherlands refers to a disagreement between Verstappen's manager, Huub Rothengatter, the team and A1 GP organizers.

The bottom line is that Verstappen is out because various financial guarantees could not be put in place.

On the Dutch racer's own website, Rothengatter writes: "Last season we had big problems collecting the salaries and price money. We have told them (A1GP) far in advance that we would not have this again for the second season. This week it appeared, despite many vague promises, that they could not give this guarantee. We are very disappointed, specially for the fans."

Jos himself is bitterly disappointed. "We will not have the same problems as we had last year. I have travelled around the globe, and every time I had to wait for my salary. I have waited months for it. I do everything to promote the A1GP series, look at the demo's we gave away just recently, at Zandvoort, Rotterdam and Assen. All promotions for the A1GP. Just this afternoon I received the last payment from last season! All we want is the guarantee that I will get paid. That's all… but they will not do that.

"The A1GP earns a lot of money through the races," he continues. "Look at Zandvoort. Over 100,000 tickets sold, and I don't get my money. How would you feel if you worked months for your boss, and he doesn't pay you? And that happens month after month. Somewhere down the line it stops. I am a man who says: 'a deal is a deal' but at this point I don't have faith in it anymore.

"I am very, very disappointed for my fans, but they have to understand my position. I hope everything still works out before the season starts," he concludes.

With Team Netherlands having already announced that Jeroen Bleekemolen will replace Jos it appears that everything will not work out before the season starts - that's unless we can expect further press releases.

The sad fact is that this is another heavy blow to A1 GP, however, the real losers are the fans, especially those already preparing for the trip to Zandvoort this weekend.

We don't know who is ultimately responsible for this mess, but we do know who will pay the price... the fans.

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Published: 27/09/2006
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