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."