March F1 it’s last race that never happened Part 3

Blog Leyton House Racing / March F1 Unraced 1990 - 1999

In mid-February when Per du Hane was running the team, and Vollenberg was on the background as he did not believe in it anymore there was no money left. The last chance for the team to make a deal went bust due to the lies form Lysyrs. The team was to be sold, though there they were Per and Henny still in the team. Vollenberg had already contact with Bernie Ecclestone to explain to him that the March team would not appear on the grid in Kyalami. The problem at that point is the money Jean-Marc Gounon would bring in.

The contract Gounon signed with the team was for 1 million dollar, he would race the first seven or eight races in 1993. It seems that his sponsors could not guarantee that they would have the money in Kyalami. When Gounon arrive in Kyalami there was no money at all. This all had to do with the ban on Tobacco from the French Government.  Jan Lammers stayed at the team at well in 1993 and he was positive at first as he would say in an interview.

Deal or no deal the March team made it through the 1993 season. The March cars, which are now named the March CG911C were on it’s way to South Africa. Two cars, some spare parts, equipment and team members boarded the plane. Jan Lammers would follow on the next flight with a business partner. He is an auto importer who has some connections in South Africa. He would try to find some sponsors. This felt like the situation in 1992 when in Canada mostly local sponsors appeared on the car. If it worked then why not now? Although Vollenberg was not positive about the situation.

As he didn’t believe surviving race to race wouldn’t work out. Once arrived in Johannesburg there was a lot to be dealt with before the team had a possibility to appear on the grid. While the cars were shipped there were still no engines and no tyres. As Vollenberg had asked Ilmor and Goodyear in October 1992 if he could pay. As the team was in negotiations at that time with a potential sponsor that eventually became one big scam with ties to the mafia. There was more to come, as for 1993 the Formula One had changed the rim sizes. They went from 18inch to 15inch. More costs were to come as the plane tickets, hotel reservations for the team members and the custom clearances had to be paid as well.

This all was paid with the sponsorship money from Jan Lammers, who brought In 600.000 Dutch guilders around 450.000 dollar. At that point Lammers was still looking for another 700.000 Dutch guilders sponsor money. It seemed that a complete season costed around 1.6million dollars. Few days before the start of the weekend it was Jan Lammers who did everything he could to have the team on the grid. It seems that Goodyear wasn’t that much of a problem. There seems to be an agreement that Goodyear would supply the team for the first few races with tyres. Although they still had an open bill with the team from last season.

The biggest obstacle for the team, that eventually would let the team disappear, were the engines from Ilmor. Like in 1992 the teams plan was to race in 1993 with the Ilmor engines as well. According to Mario Illien the March team owned them 600.000 dollar from previous year. All Illien did was to put pressure on the team that they would pay the bills. No payment meant no engines. There were too many people and team members who told him that the would pay the bill.

It never happened so when Jan Lammers asked Mario what he had to do to have the engine all Illien said was to pay. Lammers promised him that he would send him 200.000 dollar the 11th of March 1993. Part of the 1992 bill would be paid and it was also for engines for the first few races. This was the Thursday. While he did send the amount of money to the team there were no signs of engine for the team.

Lammers returned to Illien to ask why there were no engines. At this point there are two stories. It seems that Illien saw the 200.000 dollar as an payment for the 1992 season. He believed that Lammers was not a part of the situation and he should not have dealt with it on his own. Therefore there were no engine ready for the team.

The other story goes that ING send the 200.000 dollar to Ilmor. However, due to problems with the French government there was a delay in the payment. Therefore, the payment came in late and it meant that the team was unable to appear on the grid to start with. There was also an issue with one of Lammers his sponsors who in a late stadium pulled out of the deal. Therefore, Lammers was also struggling to get his promised sponsor money together.

Interestingly is that Paul Morgan and Henny Vollenberg spoke with each other before and there was a guarantee that Ilmor would supply the team with engine. It was Mario Illien in Kyalami who refused to give the engines. It would mean that the team would be able to race in Kyalami and figure out how to find new money.

With no engine in the back of the March CG911C, the team left for the last time a circuit. With the cars still stuck at customs on the airport the team headed back, had their equipment loaded once more for Bicester. Arrived at Bicester a last attempt was made to see if it was possible to save the team. This seemed not possible and the doors would close for the last time of the factory in Bicester. For Lammers it would not be the end.

After his disappointment with March in Kyalami he raced for the Il Barone Rampante team in the Formula 3000. During this period he went to the court to try to get his 200.000 dollar payment back. The money Ilmor saw as an payment for 1992. It took five days before a decision was made. Eventually Ilmor won the case that Lammers had against them. It meant that Lammers had a huge debt he had to pay off. At that time it was 1.2 million Dutch Guilders around 830.000 dollar.