Circuit of The Americas issues statement regarding Schwantz lawsuit

UPDATE #2 Kevin Schwantz, the 1993 500cc world champion, has taken another shot at Circuit of the Americas and MotoGP’s rights holder, Dorna.

Schwantz, an area resident, is currently suing the circuit in Travis County, claiming that it undermined his contract with Dorna to stage a MotoGP race at the track that is currently under construction in southeastern Travis County.

In a statement Schwantz said:

“In April 2011, COTA issued a press release with the headline “Texas Lands MotoGP for 2013; 10-year Deal Signed for Austin’s Circuit of the Americas." This press release names my company, 3fourTexasMGP, as a party to the MotoGP agreement. It also claims COTA’s track “is the U.S. home to both the Formula 1 and MotoGP Grand Prix World Championships."

“COTA presumably used this agreement with me to entice ticket sales and to persuade elected officials to commit $250 million from the State of Texas’s Major Events Trust Fund. Once it had gotten all the mileage it could out of the agreement, as alleged in my lawsuit, COTA cut me out of the deal and attempted to get a cheaper contract with Dorna.

“Following COTA’s lead, Dorna has now publicly claimed that it has terminated my MotoGP contract. I’m not surprised that Dorna is now acting as a mouthpiece for COTA. As stated in my lawsuit, COTA has misled Dorna and encouraged it to terminate my contract. This unlawful conduct resulted in an announcement in June that they were finalizing details on the Texas race.

“I am tremendously disappointed in my friends at Dorna, who appear to be forced into their current position by COTA. Hopefully, COTA won’t do to them what it did to me.

“To cut through all the spin, here is what has happened. I had an agreement to conduct MotoGP races at COTA. COTA used the agreement to sell tickets and raise money. When the time came for COTA to honor its end of the bargain, it refused. COTA thought it could get a better deal by going around me and directly to Dorna. And that is exactly what it did."

Circuit officials say they never had a contract with Schwantz and that his dispute should be with Dorna.

Dorna officials this week issued a statement that said, in part, that they terminated a contract with Schwantz in July.

Schwantz’s statement included a photograph of him with Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta at Circuit of the Americas that was reportedly taken in June of 2011.

09/08/12 Former MotoGP champion Kevin Schwantz has sued the Circuit of the Americas, claiming the race track and its president, Steve Sexton, went behind his back to strike a deal with the sport's rights-holder, Dorna, to hold races at the Austin-area track.

In a suit filed Friday in Travis County, Schwantz claims he and his company, 3fourTexas, had a 10-year contract with Spanish-based Dorna to promote a MotoGP Grand Prix in Texas.

Schwantz's suit, which seeks unspecified damages, states: "Through tortious interference and fraud, COTA and Sexton encouraged Dorna to breach and purportedly terminate 3four's agreement to avoid the obligation to pay 3four."

Although the $300 million Circuit of the Americas is best-known for the Formula One race it is slated to host in mid-November, it also was, at one time, in line for MotoGP races, beginning next year. MotoGP is motorcycling's equivalent of F1, the highest level of racing.

Schwantz, an area resident, was the MotoGP world champion in 1993 and a motorcycling legend. He's also a long-time friend of Tavo Hellmund, the promoter who initiated the Circuit of the Americas project, but who later found himself at odds with COTA investors and officers of the track.

Schwantz was hands-on in the design of the track and was on hand when the MotoGP series was announced for Austin at a news conference last year.

MotoGP, however, soon became conspicuously absent from the circuit's literature and promotions. When the circuit began selling permanent seat licenses, a MotoGP race was not mentioned.

Dorna has not confirmed that Austin will be on the 2013 MotoGP calendar. Hellmund never assigned the MotoGP contract with the circuit, but when Hellmund settled his suit against the track in June, that appeared to clear the way for the circuit to negotiate directly with Schwantz.

According to the suit, as those negotiations stalled, Schwantz also looked into other Texas sites capable of hosting a race.

"Had defendants not interfered, there is a reasonable probability that 3four would have contracted with another Texas entity that it considered for MotoGP, including the Texas World Speedway," the suit claims, referring to a racetrack near Bryan-College Station.

Schwantz claims that in July he was shocked to read comments from Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta that Ezpeleta was negotiating with the circuit.

In a statement, Schwantz said, “I’m sorry to say that COTA is now attempting to unlawfully force me out of this project. I believe COTA has committed fraud in doing so … I was forced to file this lawsuit in order to protect my rights, my reputation, and MotoGP itself."

Circuit officials had not been notified that the suit was filed Friday and could not comment, spokeswoman Julie Loignon said. Officials with Dorna could not be reached.

09/08/12 Circuit of The Americas today released the following statement regarding the recent lawsuit filed by Kevin Schwantz related to promotional rights he claims to possess for a MotoGP race in Texas.

“It makes no sense for Mr. Schwantz to pursue legal action in this matter. We were informed by DORNA, the organization that holds the rights for the MotoGP racing series, that Mr. Schwantz has no contract to promote a MotoGP race in Texas," Circuit spokesperson Julie Loignon said. “To be clear, Mr. Schwantz never had an agreement to conduct a MotoGP race at Circuit of The Americas, and to our knowledge, he has no agreement to conduct an event at any Texas racetrack. Perhaps, that is why he is reacting this way, out of embarrassment, and is making false claims to the court and media.

“We know race fans would love to see a MotoGP event at the Circuit, and it is good to know that the door is open to make that happen at our new world-class venue in Austin."

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