June 02, 2009
Published on tags: Superleague
After only 2 races in the GPVWC, rookie driver Wayne Mullins has stunned the GPVWC community by completing a management buy-out of the Gear F1 team.

It is hoped that the transfer of ownership from veteran Italian chief Gene Annunziata to newcomer Wayne will provide a boost in the fortunes of Gear F1, who have scored points in only one occasion in the current Championship.

Indeed it is hoped by all involved that the new ownership structure shall see the Gear F1 team improve their move up the grid. At the start of the season Gear were ranked as perennial backmarkers and had not bothered the upper reaches of the grid for quite some time. However since the arrival of new drivers Wayne Mullins and Leontin Nemet, the team has worked tirelessly in order to improve a reliable, but unstable and ultimately slow car.

In Monaco the team scored a season best result of 12th and 13th on the grid, but were undone by the dangerous nature of the street circuit, the cars poor stability under braking and two green team mates. In Silverstone things had looked much better. After hundreds of testing miles and setup work, new team leader Wayne Mullins was expected to be well within the top ten given his testing and pre qualifying practice session times. However terrible luck and problems with other drivers lead to a disappointing 13th on the grid. Things were not much better for the talented Leontin who had originally struggled with setup, but found bags of speed only to be ultimately undone by a broken brake pedal in qualifying (though still managing an excellent 14th), severely hampering his speed during the race.

The last race under the old ownership of Gear F1 in Silverstone was a mixed bag. Running an aggressive strategy to make up for poor qualifying, Wayne had gained 5 places and was running in the points in 8th by the second lap. However as is often the case in the GPWVC series, his race was cut short due to a collision with another driver. Leontin struggled valiantly through the rest of the race without a proper braking system but ultimately finished outside the points.

New team owner Wayne Mullins addressed the media at today? recent press conference and gave these comments: "After 2 races I feel we have identified the areas of Gear F1 that need improvement and as such an aero update will come online in 2 weeks which we are hopeful will give us a big chunk of time and move us well up the grid. Right now we have to severely modify our setups in order to make the car more stable under braking, which is costing us a bundle of time in other areas. With this new aero package I feel we can apply a more balanced setup that will give us better all round performance and a chance of challenging for points, podiums and ultimately wins. And make no mistake; this is what we are here for. As a team we have paid our dues and now want our chance to shine, so the guys at the front better keep an eye on their wing mirrors."

When asked about why he took over a team he had only been involved in for a few weeks, Wayne had this to say. "It was a massive opportunity. I had been talking to Will about the possibility of running my own team sometime down the line, then he contacted me about buying out Gene who was open to the possibility of selling his team. Sadly Gene just doesn't have the time to devote his full attentions to the team anymore and he very kindly accepted a bid from the Wayne Mullins Group to take over the day to day running of the team. He had just a few standard conditions in the transfer of ownership, 1. That no one from the Milan HQ is fired in the first year, and 2. That we keep the "Gear F1" name of the team till the end of the season. It is ultimately my goal to transfer the base of operations to Wales and run a Welsh team under the possible name of Draig F1 Racing (Draig is Dragon in Welsh). But I? more than happy to follow Gene's wishes for the rest of the season. He is a true professional and everyone in the factory will miss him terribly."

On the subject of being a team owner/driver Wayne revealed that this is the one of the first areas that will need further study. "I will of course be continuing as first team driver for the foreseeable future, as is a team owners want! But the issue of the second driver and test drivers will need to be resolved. After taking control of the team I was able to peruse the various contracts that had been signed by drivers with the Gear team. Apart from myself of course, Leontin had been signed as a test driver and Michael Pitman as the second racing driver. Having been involved with the team for 2 races, I have not had the pleasure of meeting Michael Pitman yet as I understand that he is currently recovering from a bad crash in testing. When and if he returns I will need to have a sit down and decide if Leontin, who had done a sterling job as stand-in driver should be moved aside for Michael, as per his contract. It? a difficult call to make, especially since I have never seen Michael race. Maybe some sort of driver shoot out would be the best way to settle the issue. We'll just have to see what Michael does in the near future. On top of that I have my own personal driver development programme that I wish to implement and have another driver lined up looking for a testing spot at first, but a race seat in the future".

Cutting the press conference short, new team boss Wayne Mullins was whisked away by aides muttering comments to them of "Welsh dragon head on the nose cone, line the old Snake Jordan, you know?!" This is indeed a big undertaking for the rookie boss and despite his amazing past exploits in the Geoff Crammond GP series, many will be asking if he has been out of the game too long and if he can rise to the challenge of taking a struggling team like Gear and move it up the grid.

But one thing is for sure, there is a new buzz of excitement around the Gear factory. Whereas for the last few months faces have been long and dejected, there is now a new found sense of optimism and fun in the eyes of the work force. Gear F1 is about to undergo its biggest shake-up for more than 10 years. Could the Welsh dragon breathe fire into this sleeping beast? Only time will tell.