Status GP Founder Mark Gallagher on Caterham GP2 Team Purchase
By Community | October 21, 2014
By Ismail Uddin
Status Grand Prix has recently completed the purchase of the Caterham Racing team securing their entry in the GP2 Series from 2015.
ISportconnect speaks to founder Mark Gallagher about the move into GP2.
How did the deal come about it?
We have been considering GP2 for some time. In fact it started in 2009 when we won the A1GP World Cup of Motorsport and, after that series then stopped, GP2 would have been the logical move.
No GP2 franchise was available so instead we tendered for one of the franchise for the new GP3 series; we were successful in securing that and have focused on it since. We have now reached the point where our GP2 ambitions are not only able to be fulfilled, but a great franchise became available once we started talking to Tony Fernandes’ team at Caterham Racing. It’s been a few months in the making, but we are delighted.
What does this mean for the progression of Status GP?
It means that we now have a one-stop opportunity for drivers aiming to prove themselves for Formula One, or fine tune their skills on Grand Prix circuit. It also gives us an impressive opportunity to offer commercial partners the chance to be involved in the launching-point for future World Champions, yet with many of the benefits of sponsorship normally associated with Formula One.
We race at the same tracks, in front of the same media and spectators, and in a ‘less is more’ economy I feel certain that are many companies that can benefit from this programme.
Have you been talking to brands to sponsor the new GP2 outfit?
We only completed the acquisition of Caterham Racing last week, and we have not yet had the opportunity to develop our commercial offering. It will be different. We are not interested in a ‘me too’ programme in GP2 where we rely on driver funding only for our revenue.
We can win major races at Grand Prix events, with many of the same benefits for sponsors as those offered by Formula One teams. One major advantage for us is that our drivers are typically in their late teens and bang in the middle of that all-important demographic; these are the social media users, on-line gamers, GoPro generation – and future F1 stars.
Will you consider in the future fielding a F1 Car considering your success in GP3 series and now entry in GP2?
Formula One is a category for car manufacturers and sports investors with funding commitments not dissimilar to Premier League football. Our main shareholder is Teddy Yip Jr, the son of a former-Formula One team owner – Teddy Yip of Theodore Racing fame in the 1980s – while my other partner is David Kennedy, who drove in Formula One and has a long heritage in the sport.
Given my own background at Jordan, Red Bull Racing and Cosworth it would be wrong of me to say that Formula One holds no interest for us; it most certainly does. Not as a team but more as a destination for the drivers who race for us in GP3 & GP2, and some of the commercial partners we aim to introduce to the sport by winning the launch-pad formula we are competing in.
What is the ultimate goal of Status GP?
To operate a successful business. That means winning races and Championship titles, and delivering great programmes for commercial partners. But it also means being profitable. The two go hand in glove; to thrive in top level motor sport requires a business to be run like one, and that means being very focussed on what our customers want, the revenue streams we can develop, and the growth we can sustain.
Fortunately winning is a reasonable good measure of a racing business, so winning races and winning for customers tends to go hand in hand.
Mark Gallagher is Managing Director of the CMS Motor Sport consultancy, co-owner of the Status Grand Prix motor racing team which competes in both Le Mans sports car racing and the GP3 feeder-series to Formula One, and an F1 commentator on ESPN Star Sports in Asia.
He is also a professional conference speaker on the business lessons to be learned from Formula One, drawing on his experiences in senior management positions in the sport.