Apparently, Niemela signed a contract with Brooks Associates Racing prior to the start of the 2008 Atlantic Championship season. That contract is now the source of controversy, as it's currently being disputed by the two. And yes.... you guessed it, the argument centers around money.
There are two sides to every dispute.....
According to the press release, Niemela states that he was ****updated***** Not given $200,000 dollars to sign a one-year contract with the team, which also included championship funds at the end of the year.
According to Brooks Associates Racing, "...our team was proud to give an under-budgeted young driver the opportunity to combine assets to win the 2008 Atlantic Championship.
We had a legal and binding contract with Markus Niemela, which both he and his sponsor signed. During negotiations, it was specifically agreed that any end-of-season monies were to be paid to the team.
Unfortunately for Markus, when ChampCar went bankrupt, the Championship Driver Award of a credit for a 2009 ChampCar ride went away. He is looking to now make changes to a signed agreement.
We wish Markus every success, but are disappointed in these slanderous accusations."
Take what you will from the information given, but it seems a bit odd to me that a team would pay a driver to contest the championship and provide them with the winnings; especially at the junior formula level. It will be interesting to see how this unfolds, but I have a feeling Markus is going to have to find his funding for 2009 elsewhere.**update** As expected their was some translation errors on the part of the prracewire reporter. The updated story can be found here.**