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MSR disputes Aussie Driver Search allegations

Mat Coch

Friday 17th May, 2019 - 4:48pm

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The MSR-prepared Audi R8 LMS GT3

MSR has disputed accusations made by Aussie Driver Search founder Kyle Austin following the collapse of the business.

A prepared audio statement released by ADS today specifically named Matt Stone Racing and cited incidents surrounding this year’s Bathurst 12 Hour as contributing factors to the demise of the business.

Austin claimed he “had a really negative experience when MSR ran our Audi at the Bathurst 12 Hour,” which centred around the preparation of the Audi R8 LMS GT3 MSR prepared for the event.

It was suggested the entry was firstly going to be withdrawn over a lack of insurance, which would have left Austin to foot the bill for parts and labour in readying the car.

“This led to me seriously questioning the professionalism and ethics of Matt Stone Racing,” Austin said.

Austin also alleged that a deal struck between MSR to use the VF Commodore with which Todd Hazelwood won the 2017 Super2 Series as the ADS entry was also changed without warning.

“Obviously this was a big reason for going to Matt Stone, to know that we were in a competitive car,” Austin added.

“I discovered at the Bathurst 12 Hour that we were in fact not running this car, and were moved into MSR’s other VF Commodore.”

In response, Matt Stone Racing has stated this is the first time it’s learned of any of Austin’s concerns.

“MSR strongly refutes all of the allegations made by Mr Austin and notes that this is the first time any of these matters have been raised by Mr Austin with MSR, and in fact, following the completion of the Bathurst 12Hr, Mr Austin personally thanked Matt Stone and praised the whole team’s effort for the weekend’s results,” a statement from MSR said.

It was equally scathing of Austin’s assertions surrounding the planned Super2 program.

“In relation to ADS’s Super2 entry, MSR only became aware that ADS did not intend to adhere to its contractual obligations some two weeks before the commencement of the first event of the season, being the Adelaide 500,” it said.

“MSR has suffered considerable financial hardship as a result of this breach of contract by ADS.

“Despite numerous attempts by MSR to reach a resolution with ADS and Kyle Austin to ensure Matt Powers took his place in the Super2 paddock – attempts made up to and including the days before the race – it became abundantly clear that Kyle Austin had no intention of upholding his end of the contract.

“It was only at this late stage that the decision was made to run Ashley Walsh in the Todd Hazelwood Championship winning Triple 888 VF Commodore for the 2019 Super2 series. So comments by Mr Austin that he was apparently told this as early as February at the Bathurst 12 hour are simply untrue.”

In his statement, Austin claims that the demise of his relationship with Matt Stone Racing played a key role in the collapse of ADS, with a loss of confidence within the market as a result.

“Due to only selling 51 percent of the available Pro comp spots in 2018, along with reduced sales this year, ultimately all of these factors have contributed to the situation that we’re in now,” Austin said.

“We have been continuing as per normal, trying our absolute best to turn things around as if we were hitting our sales targets we wouldn’t be in this problem, but it’s now obvious that we cannot sell the business or get any further finance to cover any cash shortfalls.”

MSR concluded its statement by saying that it intended to pursue Aussie Driver Search through liquidators in an effort to recoup the money owed to the business, and that it would “also be considering a claim against Mr Austin personally for the slanderous comments made by him in his audio statement about Mr Stone and MSR.”

FULL AND FINAL STATEMENT FROM MSR REGARDING AUSSIE DRIVER SEARCH AUDIO RELEASE

Along with the rest of the motorsport community, MSR have today become aware that Aussie Driver Search Pty Ltd (ADS) has entered voluntary liquidation by way of a release of a written and audio statement from its sole director, Mr Kyle Austin.

It has come to the attention of MSR that the audio statement contains a number of slanderous and untrue allegations against MSR and its team owner, Mr Matthew Stone.

While MSR has previously refrained from publicly commenting on this issue due to an ongoing legal dispute with ADS and Kyle Austin, MSR would like to address some of the comments made by Mr Austin.

Mr Austin makes a number of allegations regarding the Bathurst 12 Hour at which event MSR ran the ADS Audi R8 GT3 for a podium finish in class as the leading Audi on the grid.  MSR strongly refutes all of the allegations made by Mr Austin and notes that this is the first time any of these matters have been raised by Mr Austin with MSR, and in fact, following the completion of the Bathurst 12Hr, Mr Austin personally thanked Matt Stone and praised the whole team’s effort for the weekend’s results.

ADS had delivered the Audi R8 GT3 to the MSR garages in such a poor condition that it had been unable to run at the ADS competition final, leading MSR to complete considerable works to the Audi to return it to competitive running order – work MSR rightly deserved to be compensated for.

MSR remains exceptionally proud of its drivers, mechanics and entire crew for completing a tremendous amount of work in such a tight turnaround to deliver a fantastic result at an internationally competitive event.

In relation to ADS’s Super2 entry, MSR only became aware that ADS did not intend to adhere to its contractual obligations some two weeks before the commencement of the first event of the season, being the Adelaide 500. MSR has suffered considerable financial hardship as a result of this breach of contract by ADS.

Despite numerous attempts by MSR to reach a resolution with ADS and Kyle Austin to ensure Matt Powers took his place in the Super2 paddock – attempts made up to and including the days before the race – it became abundantly clear that Kyle Austin had no intention of upholding his end of the contract.

It was only at this late stage that the decision was made to run Ashley Walsh in the Todd Hazelwood Championship winning Triple 888 VF Commodore for the 2019 Super2 series. So comments by Mr Austin that he was apparently told this as early as February at the Bathurst 12 hour are simply untrue.

MSR and Matt Stone have enjoyed a long and successful career competing in Super2, Super3, Touring Car Masters, Australian GT, the Australia Ute Series and the Virgin Australia Supercars, as well as international racing series, and our whole team have worked extremely hard for many years to build the reputation of MSR in the motorsport industry.

MSR is disappointed that Mr Austin is trying to smear that reputation, and apportion some of the blame for his own poor business and lifestyle choices on MSR.

MSR will be continuing to pursue ADS through its appointed liquidators and Mr Austin for recovery of some portion of the monies owed to it by ADS and Mr Austin, and will also be considering a claim against Mr Austin personally for the slanderous comments made by him in his audio statement about Mr Stone and MSR.

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