It has been a see-saw saga and it’s not over yet, but the chances of Donington hosting the British Grand Prix Prix next year received a positive boost today when it was announced that the legal dispute between the promoter, Simon Gillett and the landowners, Wheatcroft and Son, was resolved. This dispute threatened to wreck the planning application without which the event would be a non-starter.
A statement posted on Donington’s website reads as follows:
“Wheatcroft and Son Limited, and circuit leaseholder, Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL), confirmed that they have reached an agreement which they hope will move a step closer to securing the future of East Midlands’ parkland circuit Donington Park.
“The settlement was reached after court proceedings were issued by Browne Jacobson LLP, acting on behalf of Wheatcroft & Son Limited, seeking £2.47m in rent arrears and forfeiture of the circuit lease.
“The parties have also reached agreement on the terms of the planning agreement required for planning permission to be issued and are finalising arrangements with the Council.
“These positive developments, combined with the ongoing encouragement from Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, demonstrates that DVLL is committed to pushing forward with its 2009 racing plans and 2010 Formula One preparations.
“Kevin Wheatcroft of Wheatcroft & Son Limited said: “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.”
Now Gillett can focus all his attention on raising the funding for the construction of the circuit. You have to admire his determination, but there are still a lot of people closely connected to the business who doubt the viability of this venture.
The original funding plan was based on a debenture scheme, but that appears to have suffered a major blow when the bank involved pulled out. I don’t know if Gillett is still trying to do a debenture scheme, but the problem with debentures for Formula 1 tracks is the value they represent.
Why would you pay a big premium to have your own box for a Grand Prix, when you can get yourself and your guests looked after like a king in the Paddock Club for £1500 or so a head, with a pit garage tour thrown in?