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Belgian GP crisis

NEWS STORY
09/11/2005

It appears that Belgium's regional government is considering approaching F1 supremo, Bernie Ecclestone, in a bid to secure the future of its round of the Formula One World Championship.

The government of the southern Walloon region met yesterday, and appointed economy minister, Jean-Claude Marcourt, to talk with Ecclestone.

The future of the event is in crisis following the news that the promoter of the event - Didier Defourny's DDGP has gone bankrupt.

The southern Walloon government has already lent DDGP 15m Euros (10m) in order to 'save' the 2005, but is unable to provide a similar amount in 2006.

Since most of the money goes to Ecclestone's FOM, the southern Walloon government is hoping that a deal might be agreed.

As it happens, Bernie Ecclestone used to be the race promoter at Spa - which is owned by the southern Walloon government - but this came to an end following the dropping of the race from the 2003 calendar as a result of tobacco advertising issues. Subsequently, Defourny was appointed, and though he has done a good job, has struggled financially.

Spa is one of the most popular events on the F1 calendar, both with drivers and race fans, even though facilities for the public are 'primitive'. Its absence from the 2003 calendar was noticeable, and one of Defourny's main problems - other than finding the money to pay FOM - has been in re-establishing the event.

In recent days, a number of race fans have written to Pitpass, claiming to have received e-mails from the Spa Francorchamps website stating that the circuit has gone bankrupt and all ticket monies (for 2006) will be refunded.

Contacted by Pitpass on Tuesday, a spokesperson for the circuit said: "DDGP which organized the GP last year has gone bankrupt. We do not know yet who will deal with the reservation of tickets for 2006.

"We will have more information in the next few weeks."

It's believed that in excess of 90% of visitors to the Grand Prix are from outside Belgium.

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