IndyCar team Dragon Racing sues Lotus

Dragon Racing has sued Lotus for at least $4.6 million in

damages, accusing the engine manufacturer of damaging its

reputation by spreading ”especially outrageous” falsehoods about

the IndyCar team while failing to deliver two chassis and hurting

its ability to be competitive.

The lawsuit, filed Friday in California Superior Court in Los

Angeles, is just the latest blow for Lotus. The manufacturer has

just one team left in the IndyCar Series after Dreyer &

Reinbold Racing and Bryan Herta Autosport were released from their

contracts late last month.

Dragon fields cars for Sebastien Bourdais and Katherine Legge.

Owner Jay Penske did not respond to a request for comment Monday,

and representatives from Lotus and the IndyCar Series both said

they could not comment.

Dragon’s relationship with Lotus has been shaky all season. The

team did not get an engine for Bourdais until the night before the

first practice for the season-opening race at St. Petersburg, and

the team was severely restricted in preseason testing because of

engine issues.

”Put simply, Dragon has had enough of Lotus’ deceit and

wrongdoing,” the lawsuit says. ”Dragon has put an end to its

ill-fated relationship with Lotus and now seeks recompense for the

damages inflicted upon it.”

The suit claims the problems began shortly after Dragon and

Lotus reached an agreement on Jan. 8. Dragon claims Lotus was

supposed to provide two chassis to the team free of charge, but

couldn’t afford to purchase them, forcing Penske to spend about

$800,000 to get the cars.

Then, despite already being indebted to Dragon, Lotus refused to

deliver engines unless Dragon paid Lotus ”substantial sums of

money.”

”Lotus even admitted it was indebted to Dragon. Lotus’s demands

for payment were outrageous in this context,” the suit says.

”Ultimately, Dragon was forced to relent to Lotus’ outrageous and

improper demands.”

The suit claims Dragon paid Lotus $200,000 in March toward the

engine lease, and paid $300,000 to a third party vendor at Lotus’

request. Lotus continued to insist on further payments, but Penske

refused.

Dragon also accused Lotus of defamation with ”knowingly false

statements to the effect that Dragon was not honoring financial and

contractual commitments to Lotus.”

Dragon claims Lotus is in breach of its agreement because the

manufacturer failed to disclose it was in the middle of a corporate

reorganization at the time it partnered with Dragon. The

restructuring meant Lotus lacked the financial ability to meet the

obligations of the contract.

Dragon asked the court to declare the agreement with Lotus

terminated and no longer valid or enforceable, and declare the

engine agreements were never valid.

The suit comes just as Indianapolis Motor Speedway prepares to

open for the May 27 Indianapolis 500. The first practice session is

Saturday, but Bourdais has been asked by IndyCar to do a

”refresher” test this week because he hasn’t raced on an oval

since 2006.

It’s not clear where Dragon will now get its engines. Chevrolet

has said it is committed to 15 engines for the Indy 500, but only

one is unclaimed at this time. Chevrolet also absorbed former Lotus

team Dreyer & Reinbold on Monday.

Honda, which is also down for 15 entries, is expected to absorb

Bryan Herta Autosport.

It leaves Lotus with just one official entry – Simona de

Silvestro for HVM Racing – for the Indy 500.

Lotus came into IndyCar this year with Chevrolet as the series

expanded to include multiple engine manufacturers for the first

time in seven years. Each manufacturer was supposed to have an even

split of teams, but Lotus has been admittedly behind and began the

season with only five cars.

Chevrolet began with 11 full-time entrants, and Honda had

10.

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