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DATE News (chronologically)
01/09/09
atlantic
Markus Niemelä Retains Attorney against Brooks Racing  UPDATE #2 "...Contrary to the announcement (from) BAR, Markus Niemela is not trying to force changes to an existing contract, but only wants (BAR) to fulfill their part of (the contract). (Responding to) BAR’s statement that Markus agreed that all end-of-the-season monies (would be) paid to the Team...we (would like to) quote a paragraph of the agreement between BAR and Markus Niemelä that defines (the)...prize money split between the team and the driver:

Prize money/Trophies. Prize money will be divided 100% to team for first $100,000, which is in addition to the arrangement as noted above. After $100,000, the next $50,000 to Driver. Remaining amount to be divided 50% to team, 50% to driver. All Trophies remain the property of the Driver. In the event (that the) Driver wins the Championship, (a) Champ Car bonus of $2 million towards a future ride, will be fully vested to driver.

According to Niemelä, “Naturally I’m not happy (with) the way things have gone, (but) more than anything I’m disappointed (with) the way Brooks announced (their statement) in public, (as if) it was not enough (for them) to keep most of (the) the prize money I won...I brought in (a) big part of BAR’s budget last season, and my sponsors always respected our agreement, although there were (fewer) race weekends than we had originally agreed (to), and (when Champ Car went away) there as no more Champ Car Bonus of $2 million and, therefore, (the) actual value of the agreement was less. Still, my sponsors paid the amount of the original agreement. Of course I'm not blaming Brooks (for) those changes but...both my sponsors (and I) kept loyal to Brooks no matter what, and we won the championship together. Anyway, (this) is a huge mess (and it) is not good (for) anyone. I have absolutely nothing to hide in this case, and everyone that know the details of it, know who is right, and who is wrong.

I understand (that) we need to answer...(any) false accusations made by BAR, so that this (issue) does not cause any more damage.

(But), I (also) want to make it clear that none of the employees (at) BAR during the 2008 season (are) involved...and I'm still thankful to all of my mechanics and engineers, who made it possible to win the title."

01/09/09 AutoRacing1.com has learned that Markus was not paid $200k to drive for Brooks Racing and indeed he did enter into a valid driver agreement to run the 2008 Atlantic Championship, which he won. Markus  was not "underfunded" and with the support of his great backers in Finland was able to come to an agreement to run the series with Brooks and paid all of his obligations to the team as called for in the contract. Specifically in the contract, it was agreed that Markus would retain the Championship prize in the event he won the Championship, as well as a clearly written section as to percentage splits of per event winnings. This became even more important as Champ Car folded prior to the start of the season and there really would have been no other reason to spend the money to run this series for any young driver with a budget unless there was some "prize" at the end.  None of the money was paid to Markus per his race winnings and the championship prize in any amount and the more serious issue here is "why" would any team that was delivered it's first Championship in 14 years, be trying treat their champion in this manner?

01/08/09 According to sources in Finland, Atlantic Champion Markus Niemela has retained an attorney in an attempt to secure additional, end-of-year money, allegedly owed by Brooks Racing for the 2008 season.

Niemela, who was paid $200,000 to sign a one year contract with the team, says that he was also to be paid for additional Championship money. However, Sue Brooks, who manages marketing for the team, offers a different slant on the situation. "...our team was proud to give an under-budgeted young driver the opportunity to combine assets to win the 2008 Atlantic Championship.

We had a legal and binding contract with Markus Niemela, which both he and his sponsor signed. During negotiations, it was specifically agreed that any end-of-season monies were to be paid to the team.

Unfortunately for Markus, when Champ Car went bankrupt, the Championship Driver Award of a credit for a 2009 Champ Car ride went away. He is looking to now make changes to a signed agreement.

We wish Markus every success, but are disappointed in these slanderous accusations." AutoChannel

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