Juan Villalonga Navarro, a leading Spanish businessman, has been confirmed as Hispania Racing’s new backer, the team has announced, ending speculation as to the identity of the man set to helps the struggling Spanish outfit become more competitive.
Villalonga was an influential figure in driving Spanish commercial involvement in Formula 1, when he was the CEO of Spanish telco giant Telefónica between 1996 and 2000. He was influential in brokering much of the motorsport sponsorship by Telefónica in the late 1990s, including the sponsorship of Sito Pons’ 500cc World Motorcycle Championship team and the group’s sponsorship of Minardi (pictured) with driver Marc Gené coming as part of the deal.
The HRT squad has been busy in the midst of a host of announcement and plenty of speculation to boot, with rumours flying about discussing its technical allegiances and possible driver line-up for 2011.
Team owner José Ramón Carabante was certainly pleased at having a new ally on board, and said in a press release that Villalonga would “substantially strengthen our ability to generate innovative activities in marketing and sponsorship.”
He added: “We will also be able to make the best of his leadership, knowledge and relationships in the fields of technology and communications, and therefore be able to fully exploit the opportunities we are given after this tough first year.”
Given that there has been little in the way of sponsorship interest from Spain of late – with the notable exception being the sponsorship from banking giant Santander – it will be interesting to see what opportunities Villalonga will be able to deliver in what seems to be a rather disengaged sponsorship market.
[Original image via LAT]