Marussia buys into Virgin Racing

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Virgin Racing announced today that Marussia Motors has acquired a significant shareholding in the team, securing its long-term future and ensuring that it can continue to go from strength to strength in pursuit of its racing ambitions. From the 2011 season the team will be known as Marussia Virgin Racing.

Virgin Racing was established last year when Manor Motorsport joined forces with WR Technology Limited (Wirth Research) and Virgin to compete in the FIA Formula One World Championship. Marussia Motors is not new either to Formula One or to Virgin Racing - the nascent Russian sportscar company, headed by ex-racer Nikolay Fomenko, has been a partner of Virgin Racing since the F1 team was launched in December 2009.

“This is definitely a good news story for Virgin Racing and for Formula One,” said Graeme Lowdon, Chief Executive of Virgin Racing. “Marussia Motors has been a much-valued team partner throughout the 2010 season and we are delighted to introduce them formally as the significant shareholder in Virgin Racing and a major force in the team’s future. This announcement cements our place on the Formula One grid and is testimony to the hard work and dedication of every single member of our team.”

For Moscow-based Marussia Motors, the purchase of this shareholding reflects the new sportscar manufacturer’s ambitious plans to position itself firmly on the worldwide automotive radar. The aim is to utilise Marussia Virgin Racing as a powerful international marketing platform. This also means that there will be a major Russian presence in the Formula One paddock during the build-up to the inaugural Russian Grand Prix, to be staged in the Black Sea resort city of Sochi in 2014.

“This is the realisation of a dream for Marussia Motors”, confirmed Fomenko. “While manufacturing, launching and marketing the Marussia B1, B2 and other concepts in Europe, we will have a Formula One team to promote these activities and demonstrate to the world that a new car manufacturer has arrived from Russia with truly international ambitions.”

The investment by Marussia Motors, alongside strategic investor LDC, will enable the team to plan more ambitiously for the longer term. Specifically, there will be no significant change to the team’s organisational structure as it prepares for its second season in the FIA Formula One World Championship.

Virgin Racing Team Principal, John Booth, who has overseen the team’s development throughout the season, is confident that the investment from Marussia gives the team the stability and focus to strengthen its position within the sport. “I am extremely proud of what we have achieved with Virgin Racing in what is really only 16 months since the team was founded. I am delighted that the significant efforts of the team have been recognised and have attracted the commitment of Marussia Motors, which will enable us to move forward and deliver against our five year target for success.”

Sir Richard Branson, founder of the Virgin group of companies, commented: “Our first year in Formula One was always going to be tough - even more so as we were launching in the midst of a worldwide recession. Virgin is delighted to have secured a partner which shares our vision and spirit for challenging the establishment and we look forward to working together to move the team up the Formula One grid.”