Gore hits back at Walker's allegations
|By Matt Beer||Monday, March 24th 2008, 21:18 GMT|
Craig Gore has issued a strongly worded statement in response to his former partner Derrick Walker's threat to take legal action against him.
Walker's Champ Car operation ran under the Team Australia banner after joining forces with Gore at the start of 2005, but the partnership - which operated via their company Gore Fish Walker (GFW) LLC - split last month.
Gore and driver Will Power have moved to KV Racing, while Walker has abandoned his plans to contest the IRL IndyCar Series and alleges that Gore has defaulted on a contractual obligation to continue their joint programme into 2008.
But Gore has disputed this claim in a statement issued today.
"I have not mislead Derrick Walker and or Walker Racing in any form," Gore said. "Derrick provided me with an unacceptable budget and costings with nefarious funding schedules to continue in 2008 and he has constantly advised he was moving on with other sponsors if I didn't agree.
"I have not at any time attempted to disband the company or steal drivers or staff. I have never directly or indirectly had any conversations or engagement with staff of GFW. Even during the period where the staff were employed directly by me.
"In fact, Derrick signed Will Power in mid-February without my knowledge or consent to operate independently to GFW - a breach of his duty to both GFW, myself and the parties he was purporting to deal with.
"This was a short term contract in which Derrick failed to fulfil certain criteria - Will was automatically released after the required deadline and then signed to race with Team Australia and KV Racing Technology.
"Once this was disclosed to me I severed all ties with Derrick Walker. I did try to involve him in the new team, but he was not prepared to work for others, or with others and wanted to continue operating as Walker Racing.
"He was not prepared to sell his factory, shut down his team and merge. He was insistent on operating the team from Walker Racing premises and his conditions of funding were ludicrous, fanciful and self-serving to say the least.
"I did not provide Derrick Walker or Walker Racing any commitment moving forward other than to do my best to contribute towards the merging of both series as I thought this was the best outcome for all involved."
Gore also refutes Walker's claim that he still owes the team sponsorship funds.
"Not at any time did Derrick Walker and or Walker Racing or anyone associated with him provide any permanent funding to the team, the branding of Team Australia or any other form of funding required for the team," he said. "This amounts to more than $20 million (USD) over a three-year period.
"Derrick Walker and Walker Racing used, to its sole benefit, the branding of Team Australia to develop funding for the Champ Car Atlantic programme. I received no benefit from this and I am currently owed $500,000 (USD) for cars and equipment bought by myself to establish this team the previous year. I have never called on or asked for this to be repaid.
"There have been numerous anomalies in accounts over the period amounting to more than $500,000 (USD). I have never called on these to be repaid. I will now call on the funds to be repaid immediately. I will also cause for all accounts to be forensically investigated to ensure there has been no misappropriation of funds provided to the team.
"After three years there is less than $300,000 (USD) owing in the accounts, save for Mr Walker himself, up to and prior to the date I advised him to cease operation. I have paid all budget over-runs including $950,000 (USD) in 2006 which were incurred without my express agreement or prior knowledge.
"At present there is $1.1 million (USD) outstanding in the GFW accounts, of which I have provided Derrick several undertakings to pay. These have been obviously unacceptable and now withdrawn. However, when taking into consideration Mr Walker is the largest creditor (his contribution to our partnership) it was agreed to work harmoniously to resolve these matters in an orderly and appropriate manner."
Gore added that he is not concerned about the prospect of a court case.
"I look forward to any court action Derrick Walker may take," he said. "I relish the opportunity to have my day in court."