Volvo and Garry Rogers Motorsport have been ordered into mediation talks with each other in a bid to reach an early settlement in the dispute between the carmaker and team.

GRM is seeking to be able to race its Volvo S60 cars in next year’s Supercars Championship despite Volvo confirming it was withdrawing from the series at the end of the year.

The team’s case against Volvo Cars Australia and Polestar Performance commenced on Friday in Melbourne’s Federal Court, where the judge was quick to hand down mediation orders. It is understood that if an agreement cannot be sought through mediation by December 15, the matter will return to court in February 2016, just days before the season-opening Clipsal 500 Adelaide round.

The team’s claim is that it was misled into thinking a renewal beyond the end of 2016 with Volvo was likely, only to be caught by surprise at Volvo’s subsequent announcement earlier this year that it was exiting the Supercars Championship altogether.

Having unsuccessfully sought to negotiate with Volvo management on their decision, team owner Garry Rogers took the matter to court to seek a ruling allowing it to use its current equipment for a further 12 months.

While the team is confident that it can secure new manufacturer backing by 2018, an interim period spent trying to source and run customer equipment will place too much of a financial and resource burden on the squad.

“We had our first listing in the Federal Court on Friday where orders were made by the Judge regarding the completion of legal steps,” a statement from GRM reads.

“The Judge has provided a window of opportunity to resolve the matter this year by way of Court ordered mediation.

“This was very positive from our point of view as we have been attempting to sit down with Volvo and discuss the position that they had left us in following Volvo’s unexpected announcement in May to exit Supercars at the completion of the current season, after earlier indications that an extension to the program was supported.”

In the midst of the current uncertainty, the team has renewed its Racing Entitlements Contract entries for the 2017 season by last Friday’s deadline alongside the other 24 existing licenses.

The team has competed full-time in the championship since 1996, initially running Holdens until it secured Volvo backing in 2014.

Image via Supercars Championship

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Geoff Burke

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