Former 500cc world champion Kevin Schwantz (LEFT) and the Circuit of The Americas have become embroiled in a dispute over the planned MotoGP race at the venue.
Schwantz has filed a lawsuit against the Austin track, which will host Formula 1 this November. The Texan had planned to promote a MotoGP race at the under-construction circuit through his 3fourTexasMGP business, and said an agreement running from 2013 to 2022 had been in place since 2011. But he has now started legal proceedings, alleging that COTA is trying to sideline him and deal directly with MotoGP rights-holder Dorna.
"I have devoted over 25 years of my life to MotoGP, the premier motorcycle road racing world championship," said Schwantz in a statement. "I spent four of those years bringing MotoGP to Texas, my home state. As a result, MotoGP agreed in 2011 to host an annual race at Austin's Circuit of the Americas (COTA) track.
"I'm sorry to say that COTA is now attempting to unlawfully force me out of this project. I believe COTA has committed fraud in doing so. Earlier today, I took legal action against COTA. I was forced to file this lawsuit in order to protect my rights, my reputation, and MotoGP itself.
"I want to see MotoGP come to Texas, but I cannot allow COTA to take advantage of me. More important, I will not sit idly by while a newcomer to racing discredits the sport I love."
COTA insisted that Schwantz's claims were groundless.
"It makes no sense for Mr. Schwantz to pursue legal action in this matter," said circuit spokesperson Julie Loignon. "We were informed by Dorna, the organization that holds the rights for the MotoGP racing series, that Mr. Schwantz has no contract to promote a MotoGP race in Texas.
"To be clear, Mr. Schwantz never had an agreement to conduct a MotoGP race at Circuit of The Americas, and to our knowledge, he has no agreement to conduct an event at any Texas racetrack. Perhaps, that is why he is reacting this way, out of embarrassment, and is making false claims to the court and media.
"We know race fans would love to see a MotoGP event at the circuit, and it is good to know that the door is open to make that happen at our new world-class venue in Austin."