Just a few hours after news emerged that Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, the company that operates Britain's Donington Park circuit, was being sued for back rent and the forfeiture of its lease to the track, DVLL has acted to quash rumors that it stood to lose all racing at the circuit. The issue is complex, but if the Wheatcroft family, who own the track, have the lease returned for the non-payment of the GBP 2.47 million they claim they are owed, then DVLL would no longer be allowed to operate the track, and unless a company could be found to take DVLL's place, the World Superbike, MotoGP and British Superbike rounds would be in jeopardy of being canceled.
This evening, Donington Park issued a statement on the website denying that any racing would be canceled, and saying that they expected to be running "business as usual". Significantly, the statement quotes "Donington Park staff" as saying that they would be operating the track normally, and the racing would be going ahead. Normally in cases like this, such a statement would come from the CEO or Managing Director of a company, and so two possibilities exist: The most likely is that CEO Simon Gillett may have felt that a statement from himself may have created legal complications should he have to appear in court to defend the claims against the company; But an alternative - and completely unfounded, it must be said - explanation is that the staff themselves are determined to organize the racing however they can, and no matter what the management does.
It is still too early to say which side of the argument will prevail. But with Bernie Ecclestone making significant noises about withdrawing the Formula One contract from Donington, then all bets would be off, and DVLL's chances of securing an investor to stump up the estimated GPB 100 million it would require to fund the project would seem to be very remote indeed.
The full statement, as posted on the Donington Park website, appears below:
Business as usual – races go ahead
Fri 24th Apr 09 - 17:39
Donington Park staff have confirmed that, for the foreseeable future, it is a case of "business as usual" as they re-commence their full programme of race meetings in mid-May.
The Grand Prix Master event, with its array of F1 cars and high powered sportcars, remains on schedule to go-ahead over 9/10 May and the following weekend, the HiQ British Touring Car Championship is set to power into the circuit.
Completing a hectic month, the third round of the ViSK British Superbike Championship is planned to be hosted over Spring Bank Holiday, 23/24/25 May.
The two feature events of the calendar, bringing world championship racing to the Park with World Superbikes and MotoGP, will go ahead as scheduled.
The British, and only round of the World Superbike series in the UK, will be held on 26/27/28 June with Noriyuki Haga and ‘rookie' Ben Spies continuing their duel for supremacy.
And the following month, 24/25/26 July, the sport's elite riders, led by eight times World Champion Valentino Rossi and including local hero James Toseland, will be in action in the British MotorCycle Grand Prix.
Race fans and competitors are assured that the scheduled programme of car, motorcycle and truck racing also continues as planned.