x Abu Dhabi, UAETuesday 23 January 2018

Pole Position: the A10 World Series needs new people behind the wheel

The A1 Grand Prix of Nations race series could be coming back with a new name.

Intrigue and rumours currently abound of another A1 Grand Prix of Nations style of race series called the A10 World Series. The mastermind behind the original A1GP series back in 2003 was, of course Sheikh Maktoum Hasher Al Maktoum, who based it around a franchise business model where the teams represented different countries. I attended the inaugural event at Brands Hatch in September 2004 and was stunned by the racing and the number of supporters who were waving their national flags. It was also surprising to find that franchise holders included Alan Jones (Team Australia), Emerson Fittipaldi (Team Brazil), Nicky Lauda (Team Australia), John Surtees (Team GB) and Michael Schumacher's manager, Willi Weber (Team Germany).

Sheikh Maktoum sold his stake in late 2006 and the series continued without him, it is now owned and run by Tony Texeira, and pitched nation against nation in a novel concept that enabled a number of countries to compete despite having no motor racing infrastructure themselves.

But by the time the fifth season was about to start in late 2009, the organisers were in serious financial trouble, and the cars were impounded in the UK, allegedly to be awaiting payment of large invoices for airfreight. Many other major suppliers were reported to be awaiting payments. It all fell apart and events scheduled for China, Malaysia and Holland were cancelled.

The A1GP administrator and liquidator has been trying to sell the assets for some time, a remarkable list of 20 Ferrari-engined single seaters, spare engines, 14 Lola chassis, plus the safety and medical cars and all the equipment required to run 20 cars.

So what is so intriguing? Well, a new series that would revive the A1GP concept is being rumoured to start in October under the banner of the A10 World Series. As you might imagine, this has the attention of the creditors still owed money from the Texeira-led A1GP business, yet the only public information available to them is a website that looks like it was created with an Etch A Sketch. Oddly, it seems to drip-feed titbits of information every now and again, much to the annoyance of motorsport fans.

Something is going on, though. In the UK, Companies House records show that a company called A10 World Series Ltd was registered last October by a person related to a motorsport team that ran some of the previous A1GP teams. Perhaps tellingly, I also found that the private treaty auction of all the A1GP assets has recently been closed.

The notion of a race series for the "emerging" markets in motor racing that runs in the southern hemisphere in what is Europe's off-season with national teams is still a great idea. With novice and experienced drivers alike in identical cars, the racing was exciting, with overtaking and mistakes galore - something spectators loved.

If the A10 World Series happens, but is owned by the previous management team, it may struggle as no doubt some suppliers would understandably not want to deal with them. That said, I'm all for seeing new drivers wrestling with 600hp single seaters in a bid to wave their nation's flag.

Barry Hope is a director of GulfSport Racing, which is seeking the first Arab F1 driver through the FG1000 race series. Join the UAE racing community online at www.singleseaterblog.com