The Circuit of Wales has disputed the chain of events that led to Donington Park rescinding the contract the two parties had to organize the British Grand Prix at the Leicestershire circuit. In a statement issued to the press, the circuit laid the blame for the breach firmly at the feet of Donington Park. Donington had claimed that they had not received the funds agreed, which were necessary to bring the British track up to the standard required to host a Grand Prix, but the Circuit of Wales statement claims that the sequence of events is precisely the reverse. Without a contract with Donington, the Circuit of Wales claims, they were unwilling to provide the funds which Donington needs for upgrades.
The statement also says that the Circuit of Wales will continue to work to host the British Grand Prix at a track in the UK. Given that only Silverstone has the necessary FIM homologation papers, that would appear to be the only venue capable of hosting a MotoGP round at short notice. As the Circuit of Wales holds a contract with Dorna for the right to organize the British GP, it is their prerogative to try to find a new venue and organize and promote a race. That will be neither cheap nor easy. With so much at stake, it is common practice for contracts such as these to have penalty clauses, should one party or the other fail to deliver on the terms of the contract.
With the British Grand Prix less than eight months away, the Circuit of Wales have their work cut out. With Silverstone reported to already be in talks with Dorna for the rights to organize the 2015 MotoGP race, the Circuit of Wales will need to hurry.
Below is the statement issued by the Circuit of Wales:
The Circuit of Wales is disappointed to have been unable to reach a contractual agreement with Donington Park Racing Limited (DPRL) to host the British round of the 2015 Motorcycle Grand Prix World Championship.
After initially agreeing Heads of Terms with the board of DPRL in September 2014, both parties were subsequently unable to agree further terms to form a legal contract. Contrary to claims by DPRL that the Circuit of Wales is unable to meet the funding arrangements, we are unwilling to provide the significant funding that DPRL required for the necessary track upgrades to host the British Grand Prix without a signed contractual agreement. We have all of the funding necessary in place to promote and host the 2015 race in the UK. All funding for the flagship Circuit of Wales regeneration development in Blaenau Gwent is on track with works due to start later this year following the outcome of the public inquiry in March.
The Circuit of Wales will continue to promote the British round of the FIM MotoGP™World Championship and is fully committed to delivering the event later this year.
Donington Park Renounces Partnership With Circuit Of Wales - UK MotoGP Round Back At Silverstone In 2015?
The British round of MotoGP will not this year take place at Donington Park. In a shock statement, Donington announced they were breaking off their partnership with the Circuit of Wales to host the British GP. In the statement, Donington claimed that they had not received the funding promised to them by the Circuit of Wales, which was needed to perform the upgrades required for MotoGP. With no money forthcoming, Donington had no choice but to break the contract, leaving the British round of MotoGP without a home, at least temporarily. Reports on the Motorcycle News website suggest that Silverstone will host the British race instead, with senior staff from the circuit having spoken to Dorna in Barcelona last week.
Though the fact that Donington Park announced they are pulling out of the deal at such a late stage caused a shock, it is not entirely unexpected. Donington had been awarded the contract to host the British Grand Prix as part of a deal with the Circuit of Wales. The Circuit of Wales had agreed a five-year contract with Dorna to organize the British race back in August last year, after protracted talks to host the race at the facility. However, the planning process has been subject to extensive delays, in part over the allocation of public land to the circuit, and in part due to the funding of the project. When it because clear that the track would not be ready to host the race in 2015, an agreement was reached with Donington Park, which would have seen the British race return to the Leicestershire circuit after an absence of five years.
A return to Donington was subject to major upgrades taking place to the track, however. The Circuit of Wales would have provided funds to help Donington perform these upgrades, and the failure to provide these funds appear to be the stumbling block over which the deal with the Circuit of Wales has fallen.
The statement from Donington Park assures ticket holders that they will not lose any money. Tickets bought through official channels will be refunded in full. However, tickets are just a small part of the total cost of attending a race. Costs for travel and accommodation may not be covered. The end of the deal will see travel organizations, in particular, hit hard.
The end of the tie up between Donington and the Circuit of Wales does not mean there will not be a British Grand Prix, however. Part of the deal between BT Sport and Dorna for the British rights to MotoGP is that there will be a race in the UK. With Donington Park out of the equation, that leaves Silverstone as the only viable option. MCN is reporting that talks are already well underway with Silverstone, with a long-term deal likely to keep the race at the circuit for the foreseeable future.
The breakdown of the deal between Donington Park and the Circuit of Wales could end up posing a serious threat to the future of the Circuit of Wales project. If the Circuit of Wales loses the contract to host MotoGP, then part of the rationale for building a circuit on such a grand scale in the Ebbw Vale region disappears. Without a major series at the circuit, the financial viability of the project is in question.
That was always the case, however. Although the Heads of the Valleys Development Company, the firm behind the Circuit of Wales, has consistently claimed that the track will be built using money from private investors, there has been a conspicuous lack of news forthcoming on which companies or individuals may have supplied any of the £315 million the project is said to cost. There has been a slow trickle of money from the Welsh regional government, including a £2 million development grant and underwriting of loans to the company, but no major investors have yet to step forward. That may be because of the legal issues surrounding the circuit - a public inquiry is due to be held in March on a request to deregister a large area of public land, on which the circuit and its facilities are due to be built. Attracting commercial investment may become easier if that process gives the development the green light, but so far, it has been conspicuous by its absence.
Below is the press release issued by Donington Park on its break with the Circuit of Wales:
Donington Park breaks off partnership with Circuit of Wales
10 February 2015
The Board of Directors and Staff of Donington Park Racing Limited (‘DPRL’) are greatly disappointed to have to report today that the Circuit of Wales company, and its new subsidiary GP15 Limited, have as yet been unable to complete their agreement with DPRL, nor meet long-planned payment deadlines, in order to set in motion the operation of the 2015 British Motorcycle Grand Prix, MotoGP™ at Donington Park.
For background:- In 2014 the Circuit of Wales (‘CoW’) signed a contract with Dorna SL of Barcelona, the owners and operators of the global racing series known as the FIM MotoGP World Championship, to stage the British round of MotoGP at their new circuit near Ebbw Vale for five years starting in 2015. The Circuit of Wales is not yet under construction.
In early September 2014, CoW therefore sought an alternative race circuit on which to hold the 2015 British race and so fulfil their Dorna contract. CoW agreed detailed Heads of Terms with the Board of DPRL to hire the Leicestershire circuit, which had been home to MotoGP for many years prior to 2009, in order to run their contracted British MotoGP in 2015, during which period the CoW track was scheduled to be built.
The situation at 10th February 2015 is very clear. Despite DPRL’s best efforts, the time lost with CoW being unable to complete the funding arrangements has resulted in delays in almost all of the event’s critically important operational plans, from track works to equipment hire. Therefore, in the judgment of the Board of DPRL, this current position could jeopardise the safe and successful running of the 2015 British MotoGP at Donington to such an extent, that both the commercial risks and the lack of time are now too great to allow Donington to proceed.
Therefore Donington Park must withdraw from any further participation. Consequently, the 2015 British round of the FIM MotoGP World Championship will not now be held at Donington Park on August 30th 2015.
Spectators who have already purchased tickets via Donington Park and their agency See Tickets are fully protected, with all ticket monies held safely in an independent escrow account. They will therefore automatically receive a full refund of the amount spent on their tickets, within 10 working days, if bought via See Tickets’ automated system, or by application.
The Board of DPRL is able to confirm to all ticket holders for all other 2015 race events at Donington Park that all these events will proceed as planned.
Naturally, any announcement on a replacement MotoGP race or about any future UK dates are now a matter solely for CoW and Dorna, and so DPRL will make no further comment.
DPRL has an established successful relationship with Dorna and will be welcoming Dorna’s World Superbike Championship to Donington for May 22-24, as planned.
The Board also assures all its industry partners, the many race clubs and other circuit-hiring clients who have helped build Donington’s revived business over the past 5 years, that DPRL itself will not feel any adverse financial effects. DPRL expects to work with such clients in continued partnership.
The Donington Park circuit, and the estate as a whole, is in excellent condition. The company is just currently completing a further £1 million of winter upgrades and track safety work, with innovations including a 4 x 4 course, and new build works, both on and off the circuit.
The Managing Director of Donington Park, Christopher Tate, said:-
“The whole Donington team who have worked so hard here over the past six months to fulfil our part of the MotoGP planning are as disappointed as those many fans will be who wanted to see the event return to Donington Park.
“The position we are now in is of course frustrating and uncomfortable for all concerned.
“We have our overall business, our staff and their futures to consider as well as our concerns for the fans. We have rebuilt so much of this facility and its global reputation in the years since 2010 under new ownership and management, and we are not going to risk all that nor risk affecting the quality of the MotoGP fans’ experience – looking after the fans is at the heart of what Donington does.
“It is this week, way past any normal deadlines, when we - in partnership with CoW - would have been committing to major expenditures. CoW have made it clear to us that they are not now in a position to complete, so we have to withdraw and end the planned arrangement.
“As to the immediate future, the team here at Donington look forward to welcoming fans to the wide range of 2015 events at our circuit this season which will, of course, all go ahead as normal, starting with great motorcycle racing on the Easter Weekend.”
Though the riders competing in the 2015 MotoGP championship have all departed, the factories stayed on at Sepang for another day of testing. For the fourth day of the first Sepang MotoGP test was designated as a test day for Michelin, who are due to take over as official tire supplier from 2016.
The legal complications of the change from Bridgestone to Michelin mean that the tire test is shrouded in confidentiality, rather than secrecy. This test features only the test riders, all of whom have been barred from talking to the press about the tires. Times were not recorded, and definitely not released, though a handful of hardy journalists stood at trackside with handheld stopwatches (or smartphones) and tried to time riders that way. The secrecy is understandable: Michelin are at a very early stage of their development, and Bridgestone are paying Dorna a hefty sum to be official tire supplier, and want to reap the marketing benefits that should bring.
Yet there were things to be learned from the Michelin test at Sepang today. Unofficial timing from people at the track suggests that riders were lapping somewhere between 1 and 2 seconds slower than they were on Bridgestones. Hiroshi Aoyama was the best benchmark, having ridden throughout the previous three days on a Bridgestone-shod Honda RC213V factory bike. His pace suggest that he is a little over a second a lap slower on the Michelins than on the Bridgestones. Given the newness of the project, and how much data and development Bridgestone have, Michelin appear to have done a pretty good job.
More worrying were the number of crashes at the test. Riders on Hondas, Yamahas and Suzukis all went down hard at Turn 5, the fast left hander at the back of the circuit. Michelin had told the teams to take it easy through that corner, but the riders still went down. The problem appears to have been the front tire in that section, which was wanting to tuck through the corner.
The purpose of the test is to narrow down the selection of tires to bring to the next test at Sepang, when the official riders will get their chance to try the tires. Michelin manager Piero Taramasso told a group of reporters that they had brought seven different front tires and five different rear tires, with the objective of whittling that down to three fronts and three rears for the factory riders to use at the second Sepang test. The feedback from the factory riders will then help define the direction which Michelin will follow for their further development. The basic construction of the tires - casing, compounds, profiles - will be finalized in July. For 2016, Michelin hope to bring three different compounds front and rear for each rider to use at each Grand Prix.
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The FIM today issued an updated entry list for the 2015 Moto2 season. The list has only minor changes to the original line up, with teams now having to enter a chassis name. The Kalex domination of the series is nearly complete, with 23 out of 31 entries. Speed Up and Tech 3 each have 3 entries to their names, while Suter retains just two riders, both rookies. Florian Alt has at least raced in the Moto3 series, while Malaysian rider Zaqhwan Zaidi is completely new to the series.
|1||Tito Rabat||SPA||Marc VDS Racing Team||Kalex|
|2||Jesko Raffin||SUI||SAG Team||Kalex|
|3||Simone Corsi||ITA||NGM Forward Racing||Kalex|
|4||Randy Krummenacher||SUI||Jir Moto2||Kalex|
|5||Johann Zarco||FRA||Ajo Motorsport||Kalex|
|7||Lorenzo Baldassari||ITA||Forward Racing||Kalex|
|8||Gino Rea||GBR||AGT Rea Racing||Kalex|
|10||Thitipong Warokorn||THAI||APH PTT The Pizza SAG||Kalex|
|11||Sandro Cortese||GER||Dynavolt Intact GP||Kalex|
|12||Thomas Luthi||SUI||Derendinger Racing Interwetten||Kalex|
|19||Xavier Simeon||BEL||Federal Oil Gresini Moto2||Kalex|
|21||Franco Morbidelli||ITA||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex|
|22||Sam Lowes||GBR||Speed Up||Speed Up|
|25||Azlan Shah||MAL||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||Kalex|
|30||Takaaki Nakagami||JPN||Idemitsu Honda Team Asia||Kalex|
|36||Mika Kallio||FIN||Italtrans Racing Team||Kalex|
|39||Luis Salom||SPA||Paginas Amarillas HP40||Kalex|
|40||Alex Rins||SPA||Paginas Amarillas HP40||Kalex|
|49||Axel Pons||SPA||AGR Team||Kalex|
|51||Zaqhwan Zaidi||MAL||JPMoto Malaysia||Suter|
|55||Hafizh Syahrin||MAL||Petronas Raceline Malaysia||Kalex|
|60||Julian Simon||SPA||QMMF Racing Team||Speed Up|
|66||Florian Alt||GER||OCTO Iodaracing Team||Suter|
|70||Robin Mulhauser||SUI||Technomag Racing Interwetten||Kalex|
|73||Alex Marquez||SPA||Marc VDS Racing Team||Kalex|
|77||Dominique Aegerter||SUI||Technomag Racing Interwetten||Kalex|
|94||Jonas Folger||GER||AGR Team||Kalex|
|95||Anthony West||AUS||QMMF Racing Team||Speed Up|
|96||Louis Rossi||FRA||Tasca Racing Scuderia Moto2||Tech3|
An updated version of the Moto3 entry list was issued today, including 34 riders. Brazilian rider Eric Granado has lost his place, with Maria Herrera taking the seat at the Laglisse team. Remy Gardner, son of former 500cc champion Wayne Gardner, joins the grid, ensuring an Australian successor for Jack Miller in the Moto3 championship.
|5||Romano Fenati||ITA||Sky Racing Team VR46||KTM|
|6||Maria Herrera||SPA||Husqvarna Factory Laglisse||Husqvarna|
|7||Efren Vazquez||SPA||Leopard Racing||Honda|
|9||Jorge Navarro||SPA||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda|
|11||Livio Loi||BEL||RW Racing GP||Honda|
|12||Matteo Ferrari||ITA||San Carlo Team Italia||Mahindra|
|16||Andrea Migno||ITA||Sky Racing Team VR46||KTM|
|19||Alessandro Tonucci||ITA||Outox Reset Drink Team||Mahindra|
|20||Fabio Quartararo||FRA||Estrella Galicia 0,0||Honda|
|21||Francesco Bagnaia||ITA||Mapfre Mahindra Team||Mahindra|
|22||Ana Carrasco||SPA||RBA Racing Team||KTM|
|29||Stefano Manzi||ITA||San Carlo Team Italia||Mahindra|
|31||Niklas Ajo||FIN||RBA Racing Team||KTM|
|32||Isaac Vinales||SPA||Husqvarna Factory Laglisse||Husqvarna|
|33||Enea Bastianini||ITA||Gresini Racing Moto3||Honda|
|40||Daryn Binder||RSA||Outox Reset Drink Team||Mahindra|
|41||Brad Binder||RSA||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM|
|44||Miguel Oliveira||POR||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM|
|52||Danny Kent||GBR||Leopard Racing||Honda|
|55||Andrea Locatelli||ITA||Junior Team Gresini Moto3||Honda|
|58||Juanfran Guevara||SPA||Mapfre Mahindra Team||Mahindra|
|63||Zulfahmi Khairuddin||MAL||Sepang International Circuit||KTM|
|65||Philipp Oettl||GER||Schedl GP Racing||KTM|
|76||Hiroki Ono||JPN||Leopard Racing||Honda|
|84||Jakub Kornfeil||CZE||Sepang International Circuit||KTM|
|88||Jorge Martin||SPA||Mapfre Aspar Team Moto3||Mahindra|
|91||Gabriel Rodrigo||ARG||RBA Racing Team||KTM|
|98||Karel Hanika||CZE||Red Bull KTM Ajo||KTM|
Officially, testing for 2015 MotoGP season starts in five days time, on Wednesday, 4th February. Unofficially, it started yesterday, when Yamaha and Honda's test teams gathered at Sepang to pre-test a number of parts and prepare the way for the arrival of the factory riders, who arrive in Malaysia next week.
Normally, test teams test in secret - a local journalist and photographer was told in no uncertain terms he would not be welcome at the track - which means their work goes unnoticed. Unfortunately for Honda - or perhaps fortunately, depending on your perspective - HRC had a very high-profile test rider at Sepang. Casey Stoner spent a couple of days on the 2015 Honda RC213V, and though no press release has yet been issued, a couple of posts on his Instagram and Twitter accounts gave a few clues about the test.
The weather has mostly cooperated, though rain on Thursday meant that Stoner could no do the laps he wanted, he posted on Twitter. Friday was a better day, with a lot of work done. From the photo he posted on Instagram, it was clear that Stoner was being assisted by Cristian Gabarrini, his former crew chief, and now crew chief to Jack Miller at LCR. Also present at Sepang was Andrea Zugna, the brains behind Honda's extremely advanced electronics package. Though this may be the last year in which the factories are completely free to develop their own electronics, the software in the system remains a crucial part of the racing package, and development continues apace.
Yamaha, too, were present, though with their far less famous test riders. Yamaha have also so far failed to issue a press release, though from comments made by Kouichi Tsuji at the launch of the Movistar Yamaha team earlier this week, we can make educated guesses at some of the things being tested. Tsuji hinted that Yamaha's fully seamless gearbox was to be tested this week, ahead of being trialed by Valentino Rossi and Jorge Lorenzo at the second Sepang test at the end of February. There is a chance that Yamaha's test riders will continue testing the gearbox during the first official test next week, and as we shall be present at that test, we will be keeping an ear out to try to spot the difference in sounds between the bikes.
The FIM today announced the provisional rider line up for the 2015 season. The grid will see up to 26 riders line up for the start, on motorcycles from 7 different manufacturers. The list includes one TBA, in the Pedercini Kawasaki team, which could end up going unfilled. The other question mark is over the JR Racing Team of Toni Elias and Ayrton Badovini. Though the team is on the entry list, persistent reports of financial problems suggest that they will struggle to race at all this year. They will not be present in Australia for the season opener, and suppliers report not having been paid.
The provisional rider line up is as follows:
|1||81||Jordi Torres||ESP||Aprilia RSV4 RF **||Aprilia Racing Team Red Devils|
|2||91||Leon Haslam||GBR||Aprilia RSV4 RF **||Aprilia Racing Team Red Devils|
|3||65||Jonathan Rea||GBR||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Kawasaki Racing Team|
|4||66||Tom Sykes||GBR||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Kawasaki Racing Team|
|5||1||Sylvain Guintoli||FRA||Honda CBR1000RR SP||PATA Honda World Superbike Team|
|6||60||Michael van der Mark||NED||Honda CBR1000RR SP||PATA Honda World Superbike Team|
|7||7||Chaz Davies||GBR||Ducati Panigale R **||Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Superbike Team|
|8||34||Davide Giugliano||ITA||Ducati Panigale R **||Aruba.it Racing-Ducati Superbike Team|
|9||14||Randy De Puniet||FRA||Suzuki GSX-R1000||VOLTCOM Crescent Suzuki|
|10||22||Alex Lowes||GBR||Suzuki GSX-R1000||VOLTCOM Crescent Suzuki|
|11||15||Matteo Baiocco||ITA||Ducati Panigale R **||Althea Racing|
|12||18||Nicolas Terol||ESP||Ducati Panigale R **||Althea Racing|
|13||44||David Salom||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Team Pedercini|
|14||TBA*||TBA*||TBA*||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Team Pedercini|
|15||23||Christophe Ponsson||LUX||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Grillini SBK Team|
|16||51||Santiago Barragan||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Grillini SBK Team|
|17||2||Leon Camier||GBR||MV Agusta 1000 F4 **||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|18||10||Imre Toth||HUN||BMW S1000 RR||BMW Team Toth|
|19||75||Gábor Rizmayer||HUN||BMW S1000 RR||BMW Team Toth|
|20||36||Leandro Mercado||ARG||Ducati Panigale R **||BARNI Racing Team|
|21||20||Sylvain Barrier||FRA||BMW S1000 RR||BMW Motorrad Italia Superbike Team|
|22||24||Toni Elias||ESP||BMW S1000 RR||JR Racing Team|
|23||86||Ayrton Badovini||ITA||BMW S1000 RR||JR Racing Team|
|24||40||Roman Ramos||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-10R||Team Go Eleven|
|25||59||Niccolò Canepa||ITA||EBR 1190 RX||Team Hero EBR|
|26||72||Larry Pegram||USA||EBR 1190 RX||Team Hero EBR|
*TBA: To be announced
** For 2015 models: Aprilia RSV4 RF, Ducati Panigale R and MV Agusta F4 are in the process of homologation.
The FIM today announced the provisional line up for the World Supersport class. The field will see 24 riders line up on the grid, with one name still to be announced in the Yakhnich team. Kenan Sofuoglu and Jules Cluzel are likely to be the title favorites, while American rider PJ Jacobsen will be hoping to capitalize on a strong rookie year to mount a challenge.
The provisional line up appears below:
|1||111||Kyle Smith||GBR||Honda CBR600RR||PATA Honda World Supersport Team|
|2||14||Lucas Mahias||FRA||Kawasaki ZX-6R||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres|
|3||99||Patrick Jacobsen||USA||Kawasaki ZX-6R||Kawasaki Intermoto Ponyexpres|
|4||16||Jules Cluzel||FRA||MV Agusta F3 675 **||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|5||87||Lorenzo Zanetti||ITA||MV Agusta F3 675 **||MV Agusta Reparto Corse|
|6||6||Dominic Schmitter||SUI||Kawasaki ZX-6R||Team Go Eleven|
|7||11||Christian Gamarino||ITA||Kawasaki ZX-6R||Team Go Eleven|
|8||32||Sheridan Morais||RSA||Honda CBR600RR||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|9||36||Martin Cardenas||COL||Honda CBR600RR||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|10||74||Kieran Clarke||GBR||Honda CBR600RR||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|11||84||Riccardo Russo||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||CIA Landlords Insurance Honda|
|12||5||Marco Faccani||ITA||Kawasaki ZX-6R||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing|
|13||54||Kenan Sofuoglu||TUR||Kawasaki ZX-6R||Kawasaki Puccetti Racing|
|14||44||Roberto Rolfo||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||Team Lorini|
|15||81||Alessandro Nocco||ITA||Honda CBR600RR||Team Lorini|
|16||61||Fabio Menghi||ITA||Yamaha YZF R6||VFT Racing|
|17||19||Kevin Wahr||GER||Honda CBR600RR||SMS Racing|
|18||68||Glenn Scott||AUS||Honda CBR600RR||AARK Racing|
|19||10||Nacho Calero||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-6R||CATBIKE/exit|
|20||24||Marcos Ramirez||ESP||Kawasaki ZX-6R||CATBIKE/exit|
|21||9||Ratthapark Wilairot||THA||Honda CBR600RR||CORE" Motorsport Thailand|
|22||65||Vladimir Leonov||RUS||Honda CBR600RR||Moscow Region Yakhnich Motorsport|
|23||TBA||TBA||TBA||Honda CBR600RR||Moscow Region Yakhnich Motorsport|
|24||25||Alex Baldolini||ITA||MV Agusta F3 675 **||Race Department ATK#25|
*TBA: To be announced
** For 2015 model: MV Agusta F3 is in the process of homologation.