After months of difficulty, Donington Park's difficulties appear to be at an end. The circuit killed two birds with one stone today, announcing both that it had passed the FIM inspection ahead of this months World Superbike and next month's MotoGP round, and that the track owners had reached a settlement with DVLL, the company running the track.
The track had been facing scrutiny after a new paddock access tunnel was put in place for the Formula 1 Grand Prix, due to take place in 2010, creating problems with run off. A number of events had been canceled and postponed this year, with some events taking place under a yellow flag at the section around McLeans. But a visit by FIM Safety Officer Claude Danis confirmed that the necessary changes had been made to restore run off between McLeans and Coppice. With the FIM licence now granted, the planned rounds of World Superbikes and MotoGP can go ahead unhindered.
In a press release issued by Donington Ventures Leisure Limited, the circuit CEO Simon Gillett said, "This is great news for everybody at Donington Park and all of the fans. The ticket sales for both of our world class motorcycle racing events have been extremely positive and we'd like to thank the fans who have remained loyal and believed in us for committing to buying tickets. We have already sold 50 per cent more tickets than we had at this time last year for World Superbikes and the sales of our MotoGP tickets have remained at the same level. We've also now opened up the opportunity for the on the day tickets for both events, which should encourage more fans to come and witness safe, enjoyable and exciting two-wheel racing at one of the UK's premier motorsport circuits. I'd like to thank the FIM for the positive working relationship that we have so far enjoyed and look forward to continuing to work with them in the future."
While the FIM inspection was one major hurdle, the biggest was the ongoing dispute between DVLL and the track owners, the Wheatcroft family. The Wheatcrofts were claiming nearly GBP 2.5 million in rent arrears, and had threatened to have the lease revoked, leaving DVLL with no license to operate the track, and the future of any events at the track up in the air.
But today, the DVLL and the Wheatcroft family also issued a joint press release stating that the issue had been settled in private. The statement quoted both the Wheatcrofts and Simon Gillett. Kevin Wheatcroft stated, "We are pleased that significant progress has been made in recent weeks and I am delighted that we have now reached an amicable agreement. We have always shared and supported the vision of ensuring that Formula One returns to Donington Park and are hopeful that, with the settlement achieved, that vision will be turned into reality."
DVLL Chief Executive Simon Gillett added: "This is another positive boost for Donington Park. We were always aware that saving the future of the British Grand Prix was an enormous task, but it is one that we are fully committed to and will make happen. So far, all of our efforts have been achieved in the face of adversity and it's reassuring to know that the Wheatcroft family shares our vision and passion for British motorsport."
The terms of the settlement were kept confidential. Whether this means the dispute is over completely, or if it could flare up again if DVLL ends up in arrears over rent payments in the future remains to be seen.