Donington Risks Losing MotoGP, WSBK And BSB In 2009

To many MotoGP fans, the news that Donington was to lose the British Grand Prix was bad news, as many prefer Donington's flowing layout - at least, the first half of the track, before the notorious car park section - to Silverstone's relatively flat circuit. It was seen as a loss, with another classic track disappearing from the calendar.

But it may not be such a loss after all. Ever since Donington embarked upon the project to redesign the track to make it suitable for Formula One, a stream of bad news has emerged from the circuit. First of all, the track had to reschedule and postpone a number of events after complaints about the construction. The new paddock access tunnel being built between Macleans and Coppice had meant run off in that area had been severely compromised, and the situation was only rectified after Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd promised to address the problems.

Now, Donington has an even bigger problem: The owner of the track, Tom Wheatcroft, has started legal proceedings against Donington Ventures Leisure Limited for unpaid rent. Wheatcroft claims that they are owed GBP 2.47 million by DVLL, which has a 150 year lease for the track, and are demanding payment of the arrears, which dates back to September 2008. Even worse news for DVLL is that Wheatcroft is also demanding that the lease be forfeited, effectively regaining control of the circuit.

Ever since the announcement that Donington would be hosting the British Formula One Grand Prix from 2010, there have been doubts about the feasibility of the project. DVLL needed to raise GPB 100 million to fund the massive construction planned for the new track, something many people believed would prevent a challenge at the best of times, let alone in the middle of a recession.

If DVLL is unable to rectify the situation, it could be more than just the Formula One race which is at risk. The British round of MotoGP, due to be held on July 26th, as well as the World Superbike and BSB rounds are at risk, and could well be canceled. The loss of Donington would be a particularly severe blow for MotoGP, which has already lost the planned Hungarian round due to financial problems. 2009 is a tough year in racing.  

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There is an event at Silverstone for the weekend of 28 - 29 June, but not on the GP track. So the WSBK could move round 9 to Silverstone for that weekend if Donington falls through.

Silverstone already has a classic race car event for the weekend of 24 - 26 July, so MotoGP could not be held there. The website says the dates are provisional, so it is possible that the classic race event could be rescheduled if Silverstone was given the chance to hold the MotoGP race.

Brands Hatch is holding the BMCRC Bike Championships for the weekend of 24 - 26 July. I am sure they would not mind sharing the track and paddock with the MotoGP circus. More people would come, giving the BMCRC more attention.

I have not checked Oulton Park, Snetterton, or Cadwell Park. The point is that there are circuits in England that are up-to-date enough to hold a WSBK or MotoGP race. Dorna would be wise to not cancel the British Grand Prix round but instead to hold it at another circuit.

i strongly doubt the motogp safety commission would go with any of those tracks with the possible exception of silverstone (but that track is due to upgrade runoff before the 2010 season so even there it's iffy at best).

wsbk, on the other hand...

it is the year of the bailouts - how much you want to bet the Donington Group is hoping for a handout from Dorna?