Forward Racing: Solutions Being Sought For Indianapolis And Beyond - Updated

Forward Racing boss Giovanni Cuzari remains under arrest in Lugano, Switzerland, and the team remain in doubt whether they will be able to participate in the next MotoGP round, scheduled for Indianapolis on 9th August. The biggest problem the team faces is that their bank accounts have been frozen, as part of the ongoing investigation into tax evasion, fraud and corruption which Cuzari and Libero Galli have been charged with by the Swiss authorities. The Open class Yamaha M1s and equipment belonging to the team is already in Indianapolis, having been flown there by IRTA after the German round of MotoGP at the Sachsenring. But without access to money to be able to pay for flights, hotels, car rental and all of the other sundry expenses which are necessary to allow a MotoGP team to actually go racing.

Forward Racing team manager Marco Curioni has called on the series organizers to help them make the race at Indy. MotoMatters.com has learned that the series organizers are working behind the scenes to try to allow Forward Racing to race at Indy. Both Dorna and IRTA recognize that the team finds themselves in a difficult situation not entirely of their own making. Although only the team owner has been arrested, this has had a much greater effect than if any other individual member of the team had been arrested. The team's accounts are frozen because they are in Cuzari's name, rather than because of anything the team as a whole is suspected of being involved with.

Marco Curioni has appealed to IRTA to cover their costs for Indianapolis, to allow the team to compete there, but that is not within the purview of the organization. Dorna, as series organizer, holds the funds to make such a decision, but MotoGP's rights holders are always afraid of setting a precedent for situations which may be much less exceptional than this. Forward are engaged with talking with sponsors about finding short-term solutions to allow them to continue until the situation has been resolved, or at least alleviated.

In theory, if Forward do not race at Indianapolis, they would be in breach of their contract and could have their grid slots taken away from them. That, however, will not happen, the series organizers showing the team clemency. The team have been assured that there grid slots are safe should they miss Indianapolis, Brno, or both. At the moment, the series organizers are proceeding in the expectation that Forward will be at Indy. The team is expected to make a decision on participation some time next week.

What this means for the rest of the season and for 2016 is unclear. The Forward Racing team is regarded as competent, the team having shown its potential last year with Aleix Espargaro. Nobody in the paddock wants to see the 40-odd team members, including riders, mechanics, hospitality staff, truck drivers and more, left high and dry before the end of the season. Forward have two realistic options: try to persuade their sponsors to stay on board for the rest of the year, or pass on their grid slots to another team for the remainder of 2015 and beyond. Lasting out the rest of the sason may be possible if the team gets access to the funds they already have, but having another team take their slots is unlikely, at least for this season. There are teams interested in moving up to MotoGP - the Pons Moto2 team is one, and Marc VDS is interested in taking a second slot in MotoGP - who may be willing to take over the grid slots for 2016.

What makes Forward's grid slots attractive to other teams is the fact that they are currently eligible for payment of travel allowance and free tires for both this year and next. With only 22 teams guaranteed subsidy next year, a newcomer would not receive such funds. Buying the slots of an existing team would change that, and with those slots worth roughly €1.4 million per rider, they are an attractive proposition indeed. With those grid slots as a bargaining chip, Forward Racing have a stronger position with interested teams, at least in the short term.


UPDATE

Speedweek, the German language website run by Stefan Bradl's manager, and consequently well-placed to comment, are reporting that Forward Racing will not be heading to Indy after all. Instead, they are trying to raise the funds to race at Brno, but with the team reportedly facing a backlog of payments of between €1.5 and €2 million, that may prove difficult to achieve.

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Comments

^ yes Cartman!
Anyone else get a sense Forward is a sinking ship?
I can't see a team getting going before the 2016 season starts. Why do so w a bike that would not exist next year? I hope Forward can get a bridge of financing to finish up the year. Then Pons. And Rins. And a satellite Suzuki? Seems that there are 2 of them and 2 Aprilias that will be proferred. Easy choice for me, unless Yamahas with a seamless are available outside of the obvious 4.
Anyone come across info re what bikes are going to fill the last 8 spots on the grid? The first 16 look firmed up. No disrespect intended to the current Open teams' efforts, but I can't contain my excitement re the upcoming back third of the field. Some 2015 bikes from the big 3 manufacturers perhaps? Think the chassis from this year can get a suitable set up for the Michelins?

Would it be possible for Forward to sell their grid slots for 2016 now, and use the proceeds to finish this year?

This would leave time for Mr. Curioni and the 40-odd other team members to either transition elsewhere, or, as they have demonstrated competence, be a turnkey operation for a new owner next season.

It's really disgusting to think that one man's questionable actions could potentially put the rest of the team in jeopardy. Even if he's cleared, do you think anyone will trust him again? After all it's not like Forward have been the most financially stable team in the paddock. Sure that could likely be said for most of the Open class teams, but Forward seems to have turned that up to 11.