Rahal admits massive task ahead at Jaguar

Bobby Rahal admitted he faces a massive task to make Jaguar Racing a winning team after being confirmed as its Chief Executive Officer and team principal

Rahal admits massive task ahead at Jaguar

The current head of the troubled team, Neil Ressler, will continue as chairman but Rahal, a triple Indycar champion and acting CEO of CART's FedEx Series, will be responsible for the day to day running of the Formula 1 outfit from December 1.

The 47-year-old American will give up his CART duties, but will retain ownership of his Ford-powered Champ Car team. He is to relocate to England to take up his new post at the head of the Ford-owned Jaguar team.

"His knowledge of racing at the highest level together with his business acumen and leadership capability uniquely qualifies him to join us as Jaguar," said Ressler as the team announced Rahal's appointment at Indianapolis.

Rahal, who contested two Grands Prix in 1978 for the defunct Wolf squad, was first contacted about joining Jaguar in May, but a final decision was only taken in the last month. He fills the post Ressler has held since Paul Stewart resigned in May to fight cancer and will be in day-to-day control of the team.

"I have no illusions of the immensity of the task in front of me," admitted Rahal. "Irrespective of whether I had Formula 1 experience for the last several years or not, this is a huge task.

"Some people might say 'what do I know about Formula 1?' he added. "But that misses the point to a large degree. This company's main task is to enter motor racing events and win them - and to represent Jaguar in the manner in which it would like to be represented. It is not as if I am creating the race set-up.

"My task is to take the organisation, work with the various components and assist in turning it into a winning team. I cannot do it myself - it has to be a team effort.

"Irrespective of the venue, we are talking about a company, and when you synthesise it all down, the procedures you need to be a successful
company are the same."

When quizzed on team leader Eddie Irvine, who was described as lazy by Jackie Stewart earlier in the season, Rahal gave a vote of confidence to the Ulsterman, saying: "Eddie has proved himself capable of winning races and my job is to help him to do that in future."

Rahal, who will leave his post as CART's temporary CEO in November, will relocate his family close to Jaguar's Milton Keynes HQ.

"The fact that my family is moving to Europe is a signal of my commitment," he said. We are digging in, so to speak, to take this challenge on. I do not expect miracles. I don't expect this to happen overnight."

Ford bought the Stewart Grand Prix team last year from Jackie Stewart, shortly before it scored its debut victory at the European Grand Prix, but its first season in its new guise as Jaguar Racing has been lacklustre - finishing just once in the points in 15 races.

"I am not going to say we [Jaguar] are going to be winning races next year, or the championship in three years, but these are clearly the goals," said Rahal. "I have got to get the company in the right shape to achieve these goals. I am coming here to win, but I don't want to say at what point in time. I am not going to give you [the media] anything to hang me by."

Rahal said his two-car CART team will continue to run as it has for the last two years, without his day-to-day involvement.

"I have been living on a plane on behalf of CART [as CEO] for the last few months and in that time have seen my family for just 40 hours when they were on a three-week holiday in Canada," he said. "So when you ask about the intensity of F1, in those terms it sounds to me like this job may actually allow me to have more time with my family."

No one has been named as Rahal's successor at CART, but he maintained that the organisation would continue at its present level without him.

"I always said the CART position was an interim job," he said. "No man is more important than the sport. Saying that me not being CEO means the sport is going to come to a grinding halt is ridiculous."

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