Donington Park has confirmed that it is to hold further discussions with the FIA as plans to continue hosting national and international racing during the course of the earthworks designed to bring the circuit up to Formula One standard appeared to be heading for trouble.

Amid rumours that the four major safety licences that it requires to stage meetings had been suspended, the circuit has revealed that it is to maintain a dialogue with the FIA - which would grant the necessary licence for next year's Formula One return - after the Easter break. A planned inspection by the international governing body, due for last week, did not take place

After a last-minute temporary licence was issued by the Motor Sport Association for the national-level MG Car Club and Historic Sports Car Club meetings last weekend, a permanent 'no passing zone' established under yellow flags between McLeans and Coppice - and later extended to include preceding corners as well - meant that 'racing' was badly affected, and led to criticism of both the circuit and the MSA for even allowing the events to go ahead.

The problem area at present surrounds the work to create a new access tunnel under the track between the McLeans and Coppice, which has led to much reduced run-off, with only slim earth banks and rows of tyres protecting the excavations, and extending out towards the track, leaving little room for error. Although the MSA acted in order to protect last weekend's meeting and, principally, the clubs involved in organising it, it is now understood that further off-track developments, including the cancellation of a proposed FIA safety inspection, could place all future racing in jeopardy this season.

Several organisers have already taken the decision to cancel events pencilled in for Donington, including both MotorsportVision, which was to have staged the opening round of this year's Formula Palmer Audi championship there this coming weekend [18-19 April], and Britcar, which took early action to switch its early May round to Rockingham.

"Following widely publicised concerns regarding recent development work at the circuit, MSVR requested assurances from Donington that all necessary works for the venue to receive a valid track licence from the governing body of motorsport in the UK, the MSA, would be completed ahead of the MSVR 'Blast in the Park' event, which includes the opening rounds of the FPA Championship," a MotorsportVision statement explained.

"Mindful of the importance of competitors' planning and arrangements, Donington Park was given a deadline of 1pm [9 April] to address these concerns. However, MSVR received no communication from the circuit. A spokesman for the MSA has also confirmed that they will not issue the circuit with a track licence until the circuit has been inspected and fully complies with MSA regulations. Accordingly, MSVR has been left with no alternative but to cancel the event in order to give the competitors, marshals and officials as much notice as reasonably possible.

"It's extremely disappointing that this remarkable situation has occurred, and that we have been forced to cancel our event at Donington Park due to the lack of a valid track licence," MSV chief executive Jonathan Palmer said, "This has caused significant disruption to all of MSVR's competitors and series, including Formula Palmer Audi, that were due to race next weekend.

"It is quite unsatisfactory and particularly unacceptable that we have received no communication from the circuit on the matter. We are currently in discussions with all our series and championship co-ordinators to arrange alternative dates and venues, and these will be confirmed at the earliest opportunity."

Britcar took a similar decision at the same time, withdrawing its event and rescheduling it for Rockingham, claiming that 'we can not risk leaving the decision any closer and Donington have not guaranteed that the circuit will be fit for purpose, which we can not accept. We have the Dutch Supercar Challenge coming as a support race and this was an additional reason we made the decision today'.

Doubt now surrounds the British F3/GT double-header and British Touring Car Championship events due at Donington on 25-26 April and 16-17 May respectively, although neither organiser has yet taken the decision to move elsewhere.

While a representative of F3/GT organiser SRO told Crash.net that its preferred option was to remain at Donington, even if the event had to be postponed [see story HERE, BTCC championship administrator Alan Gow has already made his current position clear.

"Donington have advised that they will have the changes made and the circuit suitably licensed prior to our event," he wrote on the series' official website forum.

While not confirming the current situation with the four safety licences, the circuit was able to shed some light on the situation - as well as providing an update on its working relationship with the FIA.

"There are two separate issues relating to cars and bikes using the circuit," a Donington spokesperson told Crash.net, "With the bikes, it is the run-off on the outside of the section between McLeans and Coppice and, with cars, to the inside of the same area.

"There is no specific update on what has already been reported to this point, but I can confirm that talks are planned for the next week. The works needed for bike racing to proceed is minimal and we are confident that that can go ahead. With the cars, there are plans in place for the architect to visit the circuit and discuss what can be done but, obviously, nothing has happened over the Easter weekend.

"I can also confirm that further talks are planned with the FIA tomorrow [Tuesday]."

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