Katherine Legge has indicated she will launch legal action after yesterday’s announcement that she had been replaced at Dragon Racing by Indy Lights veteran Sebastián Saavedra for the upcoming IndyCar Series season.
The Briton made her return to the American open-wheel racing scene with the Jay Penske-owned team after a three-year stint in the DTM championship. She claims that she agreed to a two-year deal with her main sponsor TrueCar, who she took to Dragon Racing for the 2012 and 2013 seasons.
But it now turns out that TrueCar has been named as a backer of Saavedra’s entry, which Legge will argue in is breach of the contract terms she signed.
“I am extremely disappointed that Dragon Racing and sponsor TrueCar have announced a replacement driver for the #6 car,” she said in a statement.
“I received a letter from Dragon Racing terminating my services on January 18. My legal team had asked for details regarding the reasoning for this termination but none have been provided.
“I signed a two year deal for 2012/2013 with TrueCar as a sponsor, and then I took that sponsorship to Dragon Racing shortly thereafter.
“Jay Penske told [TrueCar CEO] Scott Painter that he would bring the Penske Dealerships onboard with TrueCar if I signed with Dragon Racing, so it seemed like it would be a good fit for all.
Legge joined the team last year as part of a two-car effort with four-time CART champion Sébastien Bourdais, but the operation was forced to scale back to a one-car operation following an early split with engine supplier Lotus.
Legge contested the remaining oval races for the year – plus a one-off road course outing at Sonoma – and earned a best-placed finish of ninth at the finale at Fontana in her ten starts for the team.
“It was a very difficult season last year, we did very little testing and I was made to sit out of some of the races,” she added.
“I was very much looking forward to 2013, using the experience I gained last year as a spring board for greater success.”
In closing her statement, Legge fired a warning shot to TrueCar, and accused them of rescinding on their position to promote an equal footing for women’s participation in motorsport.
“I am in a very fortunate position to have the FIA (of which I am a Female Driver Ambassador) and Girl Scouts (STEM Ambassador) onboard with my career and I am working feverishly to put something together. However, having this happen so late in the game has made it virtually impossible,” she continued.
“I am not sure where TrueCar and Virgin stand on the ‘Women Empowered Initiative’ moving forward. I can tell you that I feel like I have been treated very unfairly in all of this and the last thing I feel at the moment is ‘Empowered!’ Scott Painter told the press on numerous occasions that it was a two-year deal with me and how he believed women could race on an equal footing with the guys.
“I have spent most of this off-season trying to help TrueCar mitigate their costs and bring sponsors onboard with their Initiative, having invested a great deal of my own time, effort and money, so this has come as a huge shock.
“I am also not sure whether IndyCar will take a stand on my behalf. I believe that the contracts are between the Teams and IndyCar so I am unsure of whether there is anything they can do apart from lend me their support.
“I have fought very hard, every step of my career, to get the opportunities that I have created for myself and I will continue to do so. I want to thank everybody for their support during all of this, it has been very tough for me to watch it unfold.”