When the management of the Donington Park circuit announced that it was planning major changes to the track, to entice Formula 1 to race there, after Silverstone lost the British F1 Grand Prix, speculation ran rife that if F1 did make the switch, MotoGP would leave Donington. And so far, that speculation looks like it could be correct: Visordown is reporting that inside sources have confirmed that this is going to happen, and from 2010, MotoGP will race at Silverstone rather than Donington.
The news came after Donington received planning permission from the local authorities for the proposed track changes and new buildings, which include a new location for the pits and paddock; a new super-fast front straight, and another rolling downhill section between what is now Goddards and Redgate corner. Once the track changes have been made, then the track would be long enough to host a Formula 1 race.
The fly in the ointment is the small matter of raising 40 million pounds sterling, the first part of a total 100 million pound package of redevelopment. With the financial crisis in full swing, and the British economy suffering badly after the implosion of the housing bubble, the prospect of trying to raise such vast quantities of cash is daunting, to say the very least.
Even if the changes are made - and new facilities are sorely needed, as the current buildings and organization are "the worst in Europe," according to one paddock insider - there's the small matter of getting all the fans into the circuit. Currently, getting in and out of Donington for the 60,000 or so MotoGP fans, many of whom are on congestion-busting motorcycles, is utter mayhem, and a task lasting many hours due to the fact that a large part of the roads leading from the motorway to the circuit are a single lane in either direction. What happens when double the number turn up, almost all in cars, is anyone's guess.
Silverstone already hosts a World Superbike round, and adding MotoGP would put it at the heart of international motorcycle racing in the UK. The tragedy is that while Donington has some of the most glorious sections of racetrack in Europe, Silverstone is flat, featureless, and prone to flooding. For US racing fans, the change would be akin to MotoGP dropping Laguna Seca in favor of Auto Club Speedway, affectionately known as "Fontucky." If MotoGP does make the switch from Donington to Silverstone, the biggest losers will be racing fans.