The British Grand Prix is to move, if everything goes to plan. At a press conference held today, Dorna and the management of the Circuit of Wales announced that a deal had been reached that will see the track, to be built in Ebbw Vale in South Wales, will host the race for the next five seasons, with an option to extend the contract for another five years after that, until 2024.
The only problem is that the Circuit of Wales does not exist yet. The track is part of a £ 315 million project aimed at regenerating the Blaenau Gwent region, a once-prosperous region that has lost most of its employment since the coal and steel industries closed. The Heads of the Valleys Development Company have set up a scheme to create a major motorsports industry hub centered around an FIM and FIA homologated race track, capable of hosting world championship racing.
So far, however, the ambitious project has run into a series of delays. First, it faced problems over the purchase of common land needed to complete the project. More importantly, there are still major financial question marks hanging over the project. Michael Carrick, chief executive of the HVDC, has said that less than 10% of the project funds will come from public sources. So far, however, the HDVC has been cagey about investment from private sources, telling reporters only that talks with potential investors are ongoing.
These delays mean that the circuit will not be ready to host the race in 2015, with some concerns that it could be 2017 before the first race can be held on the circuit. In the meantime, the Circuit of Wales will have to strike a deal with either Donington or Silverstone to host the race next year. A decision on where that race is to be held will be made within the next month, Dorna CEO Carmelo Ezpeleta told reporters.
Silverstone put out a press release saying that the Northamptonshire circuit was sorry to lose the British round of MotoGP, but said it had no choice given the sanctioning fee being asked by Dorna. That, the statement said, was at an 'unsustainable' level, and that Silverstone were keen to continue hosting the race if agreement could have been reached over a lower fee.
There is also disagreement between Silverstone and the Circuit of Wales over the use of public funds to build the Ebbw Vale track. The Circuit of Wales is looking for substantial public investment, promising returns for the region in terms of tourism, employment and tax income. The experience of other circuits around the world confirms their projections: the Circuit of the Americas has calculated that the MotoGP race there generates around $50 million for the Austin region. The Brno race generates around 1 billion Czech crowns for the Moravian area. And the Aragon regional government claims returns of between 50 and 60 million euros from MotoGP at the Motorland Aragon circuit.
For further reading on the subject, see the list of links after the press releases. Above that are the press releases put out by Dorna and Silverstone on the announcement.
Dorna Sports and Circuit of Wales sign historic MotoGP™ agreement
The Circuit of Wales is set to host the British round of the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship until 2024 after agreeing a five-year contract with the option for further five year extension with the Championship’s commercial rights holders, Dorna Sports S.L. The collaboration will begin in 2015 with next year’s Grand Prix which could be staged at an alternative British venue.
The agreement will bring the British Motorcycle Grand Prix to the innovative new Circuit of Wales near Ebbw Vale. The development is a flagship for the regeneration of the Blaenau Gwent area in a project that includes a focus on youth employment, education, academy structures and an investment in motorsport, one of the UK’s key industrial sectors.
“Our agreement with Dorna is a significant landmark in the development of the Circuit of Wales,” said Michael Carrick, Chief Executive of the Circuit of Wales. “MotoGP is the pinnacle of global motorcycle racing and expectations within the series and of its millions of fans worldwide are for a truly world class event at iconic and state-of-the art venues. We look forward to meeting those expectations when we welcome MotoGP to Wales from 2016 and we are now working closely with Dorna and the FIM, MotoGP’s governing body, with regard to the 2015 British round of the MotoGP World Championship.”
Carmelo Ezpeleta, the Chief Executive Officer of Dorna Sport S.L., commented: “We are excited to be working closely with the Circuit of Wales after being involved with the project for more than four years. The commitment to MotoGP is obviously a catalyst to a wide range of exciting projects aimed at contributing to the regeneration of the area, while we work together with MotoGP governing body the FIM in relation to the full homologation of the circuit.”
Ezpeleta continued: “The commitment to youth, to employment opportunities for the area, to its academy plans – linked to our own FIM CEV Repsol series – and the general investment in motorsport infrastructure will ensure very exciting times are ahead for Blaenau Gwent and the surrounding areas.”
The Circuit of Wales is a £280 million project to develop a purpose-built hub for the multi-billion pound British motorsport industry around a state-of-the art track, Britain’s first purpose-built motorcycle Grand Prix circuit, with unrivalled facilities for visiting fans. Sitting on the fringe of the picturesque Brecon Beacons, the Circuit of Wales will be a major catalyst for business, leisure and tourism as it spearheads the regeneration of the Blaenau Gwent region.
The first phase of the multi-purpose development will be the construction of an international specification motor racing circuit and world championship facilities, hotel, commercial and retail complexes. The facility is designed to host international motorsport events and will be a centre for motorsport-related industries.
Plans include a 3.5-mile track that takes advantage of the natural flow of the unique topography of the area, an indoor academy training facility, motocross, trials and enduro venues, an international kart circuit and driver training facilities as well as a variety of leisure and cultural amenities.
The automotive park will be one of the world’s leading sustainable developments, targeting the growth of low-carbon industries and events. It will be a hub for research and development companies that are seeking to push the boundaries in environmental technology and energy solutions. The park will showcase the latest technologies that capture and generate energy for the facility.
The race academy and training facility to develop future Welsh and UK talent will work in unison with the motor racing circuit and with Dorna. Commercial, industrial and leisure developments will be at the heart of the project, providing opportunities for the growth of advanced engineering, technology, education and sustainable transport-related businesses.
Councillor Hedley McCarthy, the Leader of Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council, commented: “On behalf of the community in Blaenau Gwent, we are absolutely delighted that Dorna is bringing the British Motorcycle Grand Prix to the Circuit of Wales. The MotoGP series is an amazing championship that has provided a stimulant and confidence for the growth of infrastructure in a number of similar areas to ours around the world in recent years. We look forward to welcoming the teams, riders, officials, media and fans to Blaenau Gwent.”
Silverstone disappointed not to extend MotoGP contract
Having invested heavily in its circuit and facilities, specifically to host the FIM MotoGP™ World Championship alongside Formula 1®, and developed the British round of the series into a highly successful event, Silverstone is disappointed not to be extending its MotoGP™ contract with Dorna.
Richard Phillips, Managing Director of Silverstone Circuits Limited, said: “We have expressed our desire to keep MotoGP™ at Silverstone, but the event is not sustainable at the fee level Dorna was proposing. Any future deal had to make economic sense and sadly we reached an impasse. The Circuit of Wales obviously believes it can make the finances work.”
Looking at the immediate future for the British Grand Prix, Phillips added, “Should the Circuit of Wales project be successful, it is unlikely that it will be ready before 2017. A venue for 2015 needs to be agreed as soon as possible to avoid having a negative impact on the success of next year’s British Grand Prix. Silverstone remains the ideal venue to stage MotoGP™; last year’s record crowds are testament to the excellent British Grand Prix experience provided by Silverstone.”
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Please, PLEASE don't let
Please, PLEASE don't let Tilke design it!
Ok, great to open up the racing somewhere else, but how do you pronounce "Ebbw"?
In reply to Commentators bane... by v2rider
Ebbw - Eh-Boo Born and bread
Ebbw - Eh-Boo
Born and bread ~ 5 miles from the proposed site. I'm still very sceptical that this is actually going to go ahead, but also very excited at the same time! There's currently major improvement works happening on the major trunk road across the tops of the valleys - hopefully that's a good sign!
+1 on Tilke
Please look for someone other than Tilke, all the circuits he designs seems to have flaws and are very bad for motorcycles, with many super slow corners in places it causes pileups...qrghh gotta let t out my chest!
I really hope this is successful and can help boost the local economy and bring new life to such a depressed area.
I think however, it is very unlikely to happen and almost certainly not within the proposed time frame.
I know COTA pulled off an amazing feat but South Wales and Britain are very far from Texas and the USA.
Perhaps my bias for motorcycle racing blinds me but I don't see a problem with public funds being used. In fact there is an argument that it could better serve the area to be entirely financed with public money - the proceeds and future possibilities being firmly for the benefit of the people and local government rather than private companies gaining a windfall and long term keeping their hands in the public pocket.
I really hope the likes of Silverstone don't implode the whole project before it starts by crying over monies spent on what they doubtless will see as a competitor. As Silverstone have said they cannot afford to run the series, should they block the development, it stands to reason the UK would miss out entirely (Donnington still a question mark since their ill fated attempt to woo F1).
One thing that baffles me is what is in it for Dorna to award a contract to a set up that doesn't even exist. Not 'just' un-built but, as yet, not even owning the land! The obvious answer is for money, particularly in light of Silverstone's statement but if the whole thing fails there won't be any money. Odd.
There seems particular parallels with the Donnington fiasco yet CoW starting from even further behind. It feels like a fantasy. I may be more inclined to give the benefit of the doubt given Dorna have seemingly signed a contract but given the several other races mooted then fallen through, I struggle to see how this will happen.
All that said, I really hope they can pull it off.
This circuit is being built an area of high rainfall. Throughout the summer it rains around one in three days, sometimes more. At around 1,000 feet above sea level it also gets very windy. The whole of that hillside is totally exposed to the elements. Take at look at the site on Google Earth, you won't see any sheep there, it's that bad. What you might find is the SAS, they train in that area.
The Circuit of Wales is doomed to failure. The Welsh will lose a lot money, others will walk away having made a lot.
Why have people forgotten the disaster that followed Donington getting the F1 contract?
On the bright side, BT may end their contract with Dorna if there isn't a UK event and that will see the end of Keith Heuwen - deep joy.
In reply to Joking idea by Norvin
Have you every actually
Have you every actually visited the area?
Didn't think so. Google maps isn't exactly renowned for its ability to spot sheep, or assess the topology of the land.
I'm not exactly sure of the orientation of the track on the site, but I've walked around Llangynidr reservoir (situated on the North boundary of the proposed site) many times and its actually situated in quite a large depression on the hill side. I'd say its quite a sheltered spot as it happens. And of course, Silverstone isn't known for its windiness at all, is it?
As for the sheep not grazing there. You try riding a motorcycle over the top from Garnlydan to Llangynidr. Your heart rate at the bottom will probably tell you how many close encounters you had with the hundreds of sheep grazing on that mountain.
As for the rainfall. I've lived there for about 20 years, before moving around the UK and living at various places over the last few years. I'd say the rainfall in the area is broadly similar to the rest of the UK. In fact, looking at average rainfall figures, its only very slightly more rainfall than Northamptonshire during the summer months.
Misinformation is a wonderful thing... ;)
In reply to Have you every actually by wedge
I live there
Strange decision on a number
Strange decision on a number of levels. There's no circuit yet - and look how well that worked with Donington and F1. Also, what sort of attendance will they really get? This venue is miles from major population centres and after the novelty of the first year, how many will they get through the gate when it's a four hour ride from most of the UK's population (at least) to get there.
Hope Donington doesn't get the interim MotoGP races, it is a dump.
In reply to Strange decision on a number by Stuart Fordyce
Its a damn site closer to any
Its a damn site closer to any real population centres than the Argentinian GP was, and that was heralded as a complete success.
In reply to Its a damn site closer to any by wedge
While that's true, there's no
While that's true, there's no other race on the entire South American continent for fans to attend.
Remember when GP was going to Hungary at the Balatonring in 2010? Yeah that didn't happen and we got Aragon instead. Then Brazil this year. COTA worked out in the end, but was up in the air for a bit there, all after Dorna had signed a 10 year agreement with the circuit. It mystifies me why that continues to happen.
In reply to While that's true, there's no by ghostdog6
I agree with you however I
I agree with you however I have come to realize this years supposed Brazilian GP was just an excuse to drop Laguna from the calendar. They announce brazil then said there were too many races and dropped Laguna. Shortly after they announced brazil wouldn't host one after all. Mission accomplished. It was easier to say there were too many races and the US doesn't need three than it was to tell all of us in the western US that our beloved Laguna is a tiny little track that nobody really wants to ride and most of the top riders fear the track.
Never mind the actual track safety record in GP, they just perpetuate what a dangerous circuit it is because it is so tight. Then their is the argument that the full paddock doesn't go. That is a whole other topic for discussion.
In reply to Strange decision on a number by Stuart Fordyce
Being from the USA and having
Being from the USA and having lived in England for a couple of years I have to day you British types are spoiled when it comes to travel distance! :) You can drive nearly anywhere in the entire country in a day.
Four hours is relatively nothing to travel for an international level motorcycle event IMO. I rode my CBR1000RR from my home in Kansas City to the MotoGP in Indianapolis in 2010. That' an eight hour 500 mile trip and that's relatively *close* for a race in the US. If I wanted to attend the race in Laguna Seca it's ~1,800 miles over two *very* long days.
It was said in the article on
It was said in the article on this very site that it remains to be seen how many go next year once the novelty has worn off. There is no point only making money for one year if you have a five year deal.
Goodbye British GP
This is such a bad idea and will kill the British GP. I have huge doubts that they will get a circuit built at all. Even if they do there is no motorway, no nearby airport and none of the required facilities. This project has been so quiet after so long that I was sure it had died. In my line of work we call it vapourware.
Hopefully they will do a deal with Donington so I can at least go back to my favourite track for a couple of years before the British GP gets cancelled all together.
Go for it!
Although I'd still love to see the British GP back on the Isle of Man on a purpose built track, during the last weekend of the TT!
In reply to Go for it! by Max Power
Oh dear................Dorna strikes again!
To me this smells like a Bernie Ecclestone-like negotiation tactic.
Based on zero background knowledge and information on this I'd guess the following scenario played out:
1) Dorna ask for hike in fees from Silverstone for new contract
2) Silverstone do the maths and profit looks skinny
3) Silverstone try to negotiate deal
4) Dorna say it's a take-it-or-leave it offer
5) Silverstone say we'll have to reconsider the future (knowing/believing that Donington is only other realistic rival)
6) Dorna up the pressure on Silverstone by signing an agreement with CoW (which will have so many get-out clauses you wouldn't believe).
MotoGP will continue to be in middle-England for the foreseeable future.
Think Cardiff and Aragon
The Cardiff area is well-served for road, rail, and air - 5 airports (incl Heathrow) within 2 hours drive. I don’t expect many super-yachts to be heading for Cardiff Bay though. There are few areas in the UK with as many positives. There are good universities, industry, accommodation, golf, tourist areas and other sights/heritage within a short journey. It makes a lot of sense.
If Silverstone try to say that the huge sums spent on the A34 weren't for their benefit then I'm a politician. By the sounds of it this site is already better served by roads etc. than Silverstone or Donington were for many years, so it's off to a good start.
I do wish people would try to support the country and the sport by being optimistic rather than pessimistic (realistic is but a euphemism). It's not unusual for projects to require some sort of commitment from users before financing can be committed. That applies to most construction projects too.
Also, whilst we all prefer dry weather, in Wales it's likely to be either full-wet or dry. Racers prefer it. They just need surfaced and drained car/bike parks and covered stands (the Welsh sun is fierce)........
Feel terrible for Silverstone. They invested SOOOO much and did so many updates and NOW the GP is breaking their balls?!
Silverstone has been so highly touted as world class motorsports site and NOW they just want to build (another) new track?
And if it seems as though findin the funds for CoW is slow now, where the hell are they gonna come up with the money to pay Silverstone or Donnington when it doesn't happen next year (or the year after)?
Ps I hear everyone saying what a dump Donnington is, I've never been there but I love the layout and watching it on TV, classic
In reply to Yikes by R6rider
The facilities are crap R6rider, although it's a good track for what it is.
There is only one stand (not covered I think), and you have to bundle round the bit of the track that is open to the crowd (not all of it is) to see anything, if you are short, forget it. I've only ever watched MotoGP at Silverstone, but I've been to BSB at Donington. It is not a proper Grand Prix circuit, it is 2nd division like Brands Hatch or Snetterton.
Silverstone beats it hands down; long fast and flowing, wide too, so loads of overtaking opportunities.
I'll be very sorry if Silverstone loses MotoGP, 1st we can't watch MotoGP on the BBC, now we can't watch at a decent track. Starting to think nobody gives a toss about MotoGP in the UK.
I wish one day we have a track in Puerto Rico ,right in the middle of the Caribbean....summer all year long, American territory, nice hotels, plenty of enthusiastic people, a strong motorcycle culture, only we don't have no track that can hold a GP :'(
Any American investors out there willing to talk? :)
is a good circuit with not-so-good facilities/access/egress.
Once there its pretty good and you can find good viewing spots that allow you to see more than one corner/small section.
The big problem is poor camping (not my scene but the facilities are often cited as dire) and the car parks cannot cope. They pack them in and then you get thousands of cars (bikes are better but its still very hard work in comparison to other circuits) trying to leave by multiple (usually poorly surfaced) exits that all lead to a single road junction more suited to a farm than an international race track/venue. If you can get out in 2 hours you are well ahead of the game.
Unless they explained how that was going to improve I wouldn't consider going to another major meeting there. Multiple attempts proved it is normal service.
Silverstone is streets ahead in facilities and it's a case of you get what you pay for. For a big fast circuit the viewing is good - lots of covered seating and some sections that are awe-inspiring to watch. Lots of choice, good facilities. Usually plenty of big screens too, which is another Donington weakness.
CoW will be cementing their reputation by how they deal with this, and if they do a deal with Donington without addressing the above then any trips to Wales are unlikely to be planned from this chair.
Is a big issue for UK circuits and CoW will have to get that properly dealt with too. A number of circuits have effectively been closed by complaints from people who bought a house nearby and then complained. Caveat emptor doesn't apply.
If you make too much noise you have to stop.
For a circuit that needs almost continuous use in order to fulfil it's aspirations it is no small problem whilst we love the sound of IC engines on unrestricted exhausts.
Replacing those circuits is a key point - there isn't really enough space for track days etc, which are a relatively big earner for circuits now.
MGP will be the glamour, but the bread and butter is in weekdays, most of the year.
Dorna increasingly remind me of the chimps with the typewriters. What clever little nugget will be produced next? It's not always easy to identify the logic stream, and even less easy to align with it.
Firstly they take the TV contract away from the BBC (British national TV service) - seven out of eight Brit fans have not watched a race on tv this season - a spectacular and largely predicted failure for the pay-station, the fans, and our sport.
The BBC built the viewing fan-base over many years, and now the paystation is squeezing an empty goatskin.
Evidently Dorna appear to be cutting out the British national circuit Silverstone - a fantastic circuit in the centre of the country with high level facilities and decades of motor racing history.
Just another own goal then? Have the lunatics finally taken over the asylum? It's like blind Scrabble. Is there anyone there? Hello??
Where there's change, there's pain, and where there's pain, there's change. Here in Blighty it is getting harder to care.
That said i wish the Circuit of Wales success.