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Virgin sells stake to Russian car manufacturer

ESPNF1 Staff
November 11, 2010 « HRT end season on upbeat note | »

Virgin has secured its long-term future after selling a major shareholding to Marussia Motors, a Russian sportscar manufacturer. The team will be known as Marussia Virgin Racing.

The contract was reportedly signed in London last Saturday. A report in the Financial Times said Marussia is buying out the team stake previously held by Lloyds Banking Group.

"Our first year in Formula One was always going to be tough, even more so as we were launching in the midst of a worldwide recession," Sir Richard Branson, Virgin's boss, explained. "Virgin is delighted to have secured a partner which shares our vision and spirit for challenging the establishment and we look forward to working together to move the team up the F1 grid."

Marussia Motors was set up by Nikolai Fomenko, an ex-racing driver, and he told state-owned news agency Ria Novosti: "Now we can state with full certainty that we have our team in Formula One. Of course, it was not an easy decision for us. I'm not entitled to disclose the contract value, but it's big money, believe me."

Marussia co-investor Andrey Cheglakov said the marque wanted to keep Virgin in its F1 name "to gain better recognition for the team itself".

Fomenko added he would be interested in signing Russian F1 driver Vitaly Petrov in the future. "Today I am unable to provide him with a competitive car," he said. "And he needs to continue his career in a fast car. Just wait for one more season."