The IndyCar team Dragon Racing has sued Group Lotus for at least $4.6 million in damages, accusing the company in its claim of damaging the team’s reputation by spreading “especially outrageous” falsehoods while at the same time failing to deliver two chassis which it had agreed to supply, which handicapped the team’s opportunity to be competitive. The lawsuit was filed in Los Angeles late last week by team owner Jay Penske. The team has deals to run Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge, but the relationship with Lotus kicked off badly when Bourdais was without an engine until the night before the first practice for the first race in St Petersburg. The lawsuit said that Dragon had had enough of Lotus’s “deceit and wrongdoing”.
Dragon claims that Lotus was supposed to provide two chassis to the team free of charge, but did not deliver them, which meant that Penske had to pay for the cars. Despite this Lotus then refused to deliver engines until paid by the team. The lawsuit says that Dragon was forced to accept Lotus’s “outrageous and improper demands”.
Dragon also accused Lotus of defamation for ewhat it claimed were “knowingly false statements to the effect that Dragon was not honoring financial and contractual commitments to Lotus”.
Dragon also claims Lotus is in breach of its agreement because it did not disclose it was in the middle of a corporate reorganization, which meant that Lotus could not meet its contractual obligations.
Dragon wants the contract cancelled and is looking for engines. Chevrolet has taken on Dreyer & Reinbold, another Lotus refugee, in recent days, while Bryan Herta Autosport has also left the Lotus fold and hopes to get a deal with Honda. Dragon is hoping that it can get some Chevrolets. This leaves Lotus with one car for HVM Racing for Simona de Silvestro, although it has been announced that Jean Alesi will race a Lotus run by Fan Force United, an Indy Lights team run by former IndyCar driver Tyce Carlson. The Frenchman was due to run with Newman Haas Racing, but the team withdrew its entry, saying that it had run out of time to prepare for the event.