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A different kind of threat to Silverstone?

NEWS STORY
06/02/2007

To many it was just another press release, accompanied by a picture of two (mysterious) men shaking hands in front of a March 701.

However, yesterday's announcement that a private consortium, Donington Ventures Leisure Limited (DVLL), has bought the Leicestershire race track could have serious implications for motor sport in Britain, and indeed the British Grand Prix.

Previously, while the race track was owned by Tom Wheatcroft, who bought it in the 70s, the land was owned by Live Nation (formerly Clear Channel Group).

The new deal sees DVLL take control of both the track and the land, giving the company 700 prime acres, just a couple of miles or so from East Midlands Airport.

The possibilities are positively endless, and though nobody is likely to dare risk mentioning the thought, the fact is that DVLL will now have the wherewithal to mount a serious bid for the rights to host Britain's round of the Formula One World Championship.

Lee Gill, DVLL's Chief Operating Officer, was previously with Marks & Spencer, a company renowned for its emphasis on customer service. In the press release he set out his stall: "We will focus and invest in significantly improving the customer experience, by setting industry-leading standards of customer service and upgrading facilities.

"Our vision for the enlarged Park is to not only build on this but also over time, broaden the appeal of Donington Park as a leisure and entertainment destination for the whole family and this will be achieved in the short term, by introducing a much broader range of events and attractions throughout the year."

Last year, almost £3 million was spent upgrading the pits and garages, and this at a time when there were restraints, what with the track and land being owned by two separate entities, with DVLL now owning the entire operation Donington has the foundations on which to build a 21st Century facility.

Bernie Ecclestone is at his wits end regarding Silverstone, and it is clear that the situation, much like the facilities at the former airfield, is never going to improve.

Though he threatens to remove Britain from the calendar he knows that it is an important event, prestigious even, however, the Northamptonshire track does not meet the standards he and contemporary F1 demand.

Therefore, we can expect to see DVLL get to work on a serious programme in the coming months as they turn Donington into a facility that provides entertainment every day of the week, not just Sundays. This will include motor racing and the numerous music festivals that the facility already hosts.

However, with so much land available, the track can be developed with further relevant infrastructure added, such as a hotel, and a facility for launches.

If one were to start from scratch, to stand in front of a map of Britain and choose an ideal location for a race track, close to major roads and an airport next door, Donington would be the obvious choice, the only choice. And now DVLL own the entire facility.

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