PARIT PAYAU, PAHANG — Honda Formula One’s perilous fate was rescued yesterday when Parit Payau, a small village in Pahang, announced that it was buying over the troubled racing team.
The Brackley-based team faced an uncertain future after ailing manufacturer Honda pulled out of Formula One late last year due to financial pressures. There had been speculations of interested buyers since then, such as Mexican billionaire Carlos Slim, but none of them materialised. With over half a billion dollars needed to develop and run the machines and operate the team every year, the team was headed for doom.
Team principal Ross Brawn expressed his relief at the news, saying that he was ‘ready to split’ by the end of the month if no one had stepped up to rescue the team, who now plan to line up in Melbourne in March with Briton Jenson Button and Bruno Senna as their drivers.
“Well it’s about bloody time, ain’t it?” said Brawn. “I mean, here we were, 700 people building these beautiful machines, not knowing if they’d run this year,” he said.
“I sure am glad for those fine people up in Malaysia. God bless the village of Parit Payau.”
The village chief, Haji Nasrudin Ayob, when met, said that it has always been the village people’s dream of owning an F1 team, and that dream came true after their farms had a good harvest this year.
“Alhamdulillah, we finally got to do it. The kampung folk had been racing everything — tractors, harvesters and even buffaloes — to satisfy our racing needs. We wanted to have serious races, and now we can.”
Haji Nasrudin said that the purchase decision was made after a meeting at the Balai Raya. “We calculated our profit we got from the harvest, and decided that this was the perfect time.” He proudly showed the reporters some of the crop which was being harvested to be sold at hypermarkets in town. “This baby, and all her friends, will pay for the races throughout the 2009 season.”
Nasrudin revealed that the proposal to buy Honda F1 initially had faced criticism from some quarters in the village.
“Some of the younger people were against the plan at first, preferring to put the money into building a new school and a surau.
“We, the village council, understood their concern and had explained to them that this is for the greater good.
“They were not convinced. But what turned them around were these,” said Nasrudin, laughing while showing a stack of grandstand tickets and pit passes for every venue in the 2009 calendar.
“I also told them that one of the venues was Dubai, and that they could easily make a detour to perform their umrah before they get to the race.”
The new team owners were confident of their 2009 chances.
“The team now has all of us at Parit Payau praying and willing for their success before each race. The kampung’s spirit will roar along with every rev of the engine.
“Get ready to eat dust, Ferrari and McLaren.”