Donington Ventures Leisure Limited - the company that holds the lease to operate Donington Park - entered administration, it was announced on the Donington Park website today. The announcement came as the latest in the long saga of financial woes which started after DVLL was awarded a 17 year contract to host the British Formula One Grand Prix last year. That plan required raising a staggering 135 million pounds sterling, an ambitious prospect at the best of times, but nigh on impossible in the financial crisis which has engulfed the world since the contract was awarded. The failure of the debenture plan announced some three weeks ago, and the company's future has been in doubt since them.
The statement on the company website makes no mention of the events - such as the World Superbike round due to be held there on August 1st, 2010 - but yesterday, before the announcement was made, a company spokesperson told MotoMatters.com that the World Superbike event was still on the calendar and that it should go on as scheduled. Paolo Flammini, who runs the World Superbike series, also told GPOne.com that they were monitoring the situation and had no reason to believe the race would need to be moved or cancelled.
And yet there is some reason for concern. The company statement says that "work has already begun to develop the circuit to Formula One Grand Prix standard," work which was already visible when both MotoGP and World Superbikes visited the track in the middle of last year. Since then, much more has happened, and according to reports from one observer, large parts of the track have already been dug up, making racing on the track in its current form completely impossible. The costs just to restore the track to a raceable state - either back to the old layout or upgraded to the new F1 layout - will be considerable, meaning that anyone taking over either DVLL or the lease to operate the track faces a serious investment before the track can even start to generate income.
If the British round of World Superbikes does have to be moved, Brands Hatch currently has nothing booked on the weekend of August 1st, 2010. The calendar for Silverstone is not available yet, but the triple whammy - F1, MotoGP and World Superbikes - would be an attractive, if expense, prospect for the Northamptonshire track.