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Australia

T3 Lamborghini team members take legal action over non-payments

The members of the T3 Motorsport team have begun taking legal action to seek unpaid amounts, Motorsport.com’s sister title Motorsport-Total.com can reveal.

Nicki Thiim, T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán EVO GT3

Lamborghini customer T3 Motorsport has been absent from the DTM grid since the second round of the season back in May, having been due to contest the entire campaign with factory Aston Martin driver Nicki Thiim and sophomore racer Esmee Hawkey.

There has been growing displeasure within the team over a lack of payments amid its extended absence from racing, with its members having to resort to criminal charges on the suspicion of fraud.

They argue that the company signed up people despite being aware that they did not have the financial means to compensate them for their work. There have also been rumours that the company is insolvent but hasn't filed for bankruptcy yet.

It is estimated that a total of about 15 team members including engineers and mechanics, some of whom worked as freelancers, are owed more than 100,000 euro in total.

This includes the amount due for the opening two DTM rounds at Portimao and the Lausitzring as well as the two official tests in the run-up to the year. In fact, some team members are said to have not yet been paid for the Rolex 24 IMSA race that was held back in January.

With the criminal complaint lodged, the public prosecutor's office is now being asked to investigate the matter. If a criminal offence is deemed to have been committed, the state will take legal action against those responsible.

Motorsport-Total.com reached out to T3 Motorsport to respond to allegations made by its members, but has yet to receive a response from the team.

Struggle for payment

Esmee Hawkey, T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán EVO GT3

Esmee Hawkey, T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán EVO GT3

Photo by: Alexander Trienitz

A long-time T3 Motorsport team member who agreed to an interview on the condition of anonymity revealed that the staff even advanced money to the team to help it meet its ends.

"Our concern is not that this company goes bust, but that we get paid for our work," the employee told Motorsport-Total.com. "And that at least payments are made [for the amount] that is still outstanding.

"We are still getting mail from the first weekend of the season in Portimao because tolls from the rental car have not been paid - or the hotel bill. Since the Lausitzring weekend, we've been getting something every week.

"We have nothing to reproach ourselves for. We even advanced money to the team and still did our job - and now we're just left hanging."

It had been known for some time that the team was under financial stress. During preparations for the Lausitzring weekend in mid-May, the police turned up at the team's headquarters and scratched off the registration seals from the number plates of the team buses in front of the assembled staff in order to de-register them.

"We should have known then that it was on shaky grounds and probably the insurance wasn't paid," the team member said. "But we went ahead anyway." 

As it turned out, Lausitzring proved to be the last outing of T3 Motorsport in the DTM, with the team missing the Imola round just two weeks later - and all subsequent events since then.

Esmee Hawkey, T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán EVO GT3

Esmee Hawkey, T3 Motorsport Lamborghini Huracán EVO GT3

Photo by: Andreas Beil

Amid T3's absence from racing, team members tried several times to claim the money due to them out of court, but all their attempts were thwarted by the management.

The next step was to file a court order to receive the money. However, their employer rejected this, which resulted in added legal costs.

Team boss Jens Feucht, who was in intensive care around the Imola weekend because of a viral infection, told team members that he would withdraw the rejection and send an admission of debt - thus acknowledging their claims. It offered a brief ray of hope, but the money never materialised.

So a second court summons was filed by the team members, but was again rejected by the squad. This is possible without giving any reason - and can be used to prevent insolvency proceedings.

After two unsuccessful court orders, the only remaining option left was to put pressure on the team by filing a criminal complaint. 

Although the complaint has now been lodged, team members remain worried about the money owed to them, with T3 Motorsport having already sold Hawkey's Lamborghini Huracan GT3 Evo and other equipment.

Some of it is also used by Maximilian Paul in the ADAC GT Masters, whose father Tobias Paul is one of the three shareholders of T3 Motorsport. Since August, the team has not been competing with the T3 name but instead under the Paul Motorsport banner. In the event of a T3 insolvency, the operation is unlikely to be affected.

"So the assets are further minimised," said the same team member. "And everything is rejected - and at some point insolvency will be filed of necessity, only then there will be nothing left."

He emphasised that no harm is meant to the people concerned, but they want to be treated fairly.

"We are ready to talk, because we had a great time," he said. "We worked together intensively for many years and had a lot of fun. It hurts all the more that things are going this way now. That's why we are also very disappointed on a human level."

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