by Michael Mata
Garry Rogers, the retired racing driver who owns Garry Rogers Motorsport (GRM), has commenced legal action against Volvo. The statement of claim, which alleges misleading and deceptive conduct, was filed by GRM in the Federal Court of Australia last Friday afternoon.
The applicant in the case is Rogers Engineering and Development, the company which trades as GRM, while the respondents are Volvo Car Australia and Polestar Performance.
Rogers confirmed his team would take legal action over Volvo’s decision not to extend its three-year deal with GRM to race in Supercars beyond 2016. The decision to ends its involvement with Supercars was announced in May by Volvo’s motorsport and performance arm Polestar.
A follow-up statement from Cyan Racing, Volvo’s racing partner, claimed it would reclaim its engines and race cars and return them to Sweden after the season ends.
GRM and its legal team, Frenkel Partners (with former AFL executive Adrian Anderson acting as lead counsel) are arguing that the decision was contrary to previous indications GRM had been given about the deal’s renewal.
Following the announcement, Rogers made it clear that his team still intended to race its Volvo S60-based Supercars again next year as a bridging measure before securing new backing in 2018. Once it secures new backing, GRM will race with a new brand of car and engine.
According to Rogers, ongoing efforts to discuss the matter with Volvo’s global management team failed to yield a satisfactory solution. Following May’s announcement, GRM sent a formal request to have the withdrawal delayed for 12 months to give the team time to source a replacement manufacturer partner. This request was rejected, forcing Rogers to resort to legal action.
In a double blow, star driver Scott McLaughlin elected to swap teams after next year, citing Volvo’s pull-out and the uncertainty this created as an important reason for his decision.
GRM agrees that the engine, developed by Cyan Racing, is Volvo’s to reclaim, but argues that Volvo has no right to the actual cars, which are based on a proprietary Supercars chassis.
“We have attempted to engage Volvo and resolve this matter in an amicable manner,” affirmed Rogers. “Our core business is racing cars and not going to court.”