MotoGP

Silverstone to Host British GP after Donington Dust-Up?

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The British round of MotoGP will not this year take place at Donington Park. In a shock statement, Donington Park announced it was breaking off its partnership with the Circuit of Wales to host the British GP.

In the statement, Donington claimed that it had not received the funding promised to it by the Circuit of Wales, which was needed to perform the upgrades required for MotoGP.

With no money forthcoming, Donington had no choice but to break the contract, leaving the British round of MotoGP without a home, at least temporarily.

Reports on the Motorcycle News website suggest that Silverstone will host the British race instead, with senior staff from the circuit having spoken to Dorna in Barcelona last week.

The Circuit of Wales has disputed the chain of events that led to Donington Park rescinding the contract the two parties had to organize the British Grand Prix at the Leicestershire circuit. In a statement issued to the press, the circuit laid the blame for the breach firmly at the feet of Donington Park.

Donington had claimed that they had not received the funds agreed, which were necessary to bring the British track up to the standard required to host a Grand Prix, but the Circuit of Wales statement claims that the sequence of events is precisely the reverse.

Without a contract with Donington, the Circuit of Wales claims, they were unwilling to provide the funds which Donington needs for upgrades.

Though the fact that Donington Park announced they are pulling out of the deal at such a late stage caused a shock, it is not entirely unexpected. Donington had been awarded the contract to host the British Grand Prix as part of a deal with the Circuit of Wales.

The Circuit of Wales had agreed a five-year contract with Dorna to organize the British race back in August last year, after protracted talks to host the race at the facility. However, the planning process has been subject to extensive delays, in part over the allocation of public land to the circuit, and in part due to the funding of the project.

When it because clear that the track would not be ready to host the race in 2015, an agreement was reached with Donington Park, which would have seen the British race return to the Leicestershire circuit after an absence of five years.

A return to Donington was subject to major upgrades taking place to the track, however. The Circuit of Wales would have provided funds to help Donington perform these upgrades, and the failure to provide these funds appear to be the stumbling block over which the deal with the Circuit of Wales has fallen.

The statement from Donington Park assures ticket holders that they will not lose any money. Tickets bought through official channels will be refunded in full. However, tickets are just a small part of the total cost of attending a race. Costs for travel and accommodation may not be covered. The end of the deal will see travel organizations, in particular, hit hard.

The end of the tie up between Donington and the Circuit of Wales does not mean there will not be a British Grand Prix, however. Part of the deal between BT Sport and Dorna for the British rights to MotoGP is that there will be a race in the UK.

With Donington Park out of the equation, that leaves Silverstone as the only viable option. MCN is reporting that talks are already well underway with Silverstone, with a long-term deal likely to keep the race at the circuit for the foreseeable future.

The breakdown of the deal between Donington Park and the Circuit of Wales could end up posing a serious threat to the future of the Circuit of Wales project.

If the Circuit of Wales loses the contract to host MotoGP, then part of the rationale for building a circuit on such a grand scale in the Ebbw Vale region disappears. Without a major series at the circuit, the financial viability of the project is in question.

With the British Grand Prix less than eight months away, the Circuit of Wales have their work cut out. With Silverstone reported to already be in talks with Dorna for the rights to organize the 2015 MotoGP race, the Circuit of Wales will need to hurry.

That was always the case, however. Although the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the firm behind the Circuit of Wales, has consistently claimed that the track will be built using money from private investors, there has been a conspicuous lack of news forthcoming on which companies or individuals may have supplied any of the £315 million the project is said to cost.

There has been a slow trickle of money from the Welsh regional government, including a £2 million development grant and underwriting of loans to the company, but no major investors have yet to step forward.

That may be because of the legal issues surrounding the circuit – a public inquiry is due to be held in March on a request to deregister a large area of public land, on which the circuit and its facilities are due to be built.

Attracting commercial investment may become easier if that process gives the development the green light, but so far, it has been conspicuous by its absence.

This article was originally published on MotoMatters, and is republished here on Asphalt & Rubber with permission by the author.

David Emmett

One of MotoGP's most respected journalists, David Emmett is the proprietor of the esteemed MotoMatters. We are very grateful to republish David's work here on A&R...though dread the day we ever again get in a car with him.

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