It was a day to forget for Manor CEFC TRSM Racing for the first day of the FIA 2018-19 World Endurance Championship. They spent the two practice sessions garage bound, only appearing at the start of each session to complete an installation lap.
There is a developing situation at the Manor / Ginetta camp, but no offiial comments have been disclosed at the time of publishing. Two of the team’s drivers were seen, during the second practice session, at the top of Eau Rouge spectating the track action that they should have been involved in.
Speculation is growing online that their is a financial reason as to why the two Ginettas have been garage bound all day. Reuters is reporting that the chairman of CEFC, Ye Jianming, has been detained by the Chinese government on the suspicion of economic crimes related to the company’s recent agreement to purchase a $9.1 billion stake in the Russian oil Rosneft.
There are hints from inside the team that the Ginetta LMP1 competitor could have some teething issues that are preventing the car getting out on track. The #5 car was four hours late to its scrutineering appointment on Wednesday afternoon, which could either have been caused by the alleged financial troubles or the potential issues that have come from the car.
When questioned about the Manor’s absence, Manor president and sporting director of the team Graeme Lowdon refused to comment. Whether this was to save face with new technical partners Ginetta or because he is not allowed or willing to discuss the financial situation of the team is unknown.
At this point in time, it is unclear whether the Manor cars will take any further part in the 6 Hours of Spa-Francorchamps. If they fail to enter this round, they may be forced to forfeit from the 24 Hours of Le Mans next month. If this comes to pass, KCMG and Spirit of Race are the first two reserve entries for the prestigious race, entering into LMP2 and LM GTE Am respectively.
Whilst the #6 is branded in the CEFC graphics, the #5 does not carry such imagery and is believed to be backed by the British constructor directly. If this is the case, it may be more likely that issues with Ginetta’s car are the reason the garage doors remained closed today.
No representative from Ginetta has been available to provide comment.