Donington Park owner Kevin Wheatcroft has revealed that he is hopeful of finding a buyer to take over the lease of the beleaguered Leicestershire circuit by the end of this month – and in the wake of the Simon Gillett saga, he adds, this time it must
be 'the right decision'.
Following the perhaps inevitable financial collapse of Gillett's ambitious, £100 million-plus British Grand Prix redevelopment venture in November – and the consequent entry into administration of his company Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd (DVLL) – the lease on the track and its facilities returned to the Wheatcroft family on Christmas Eve, with circuit founder Tom Wheatcroft's son Kevin assuming control after administrators Begbies Traynor proved unsuccessful in securing a new lease-holder.
The halt in work on the upgrades that Gillett had initiated means Donington is not presently in a usable state, and race meetings due to be held there in 2010 have either already been canned or are looking unlikely in the extreme. That is scarcely aiding the process of finding a new buyer, but Wheatcroft is confident of a resolution in the not-too distant future.
“I'm hoping towards the end of January we'll be able to pin someone down as being the future of Donington,” he told BBC Radio Leicester
. “We've had interested parties and now have a shortlist of about 14. We have to whittle through that, and see what is the best business plan and the best financial direction available to us.”
After the salutary lesson learned from Gillett's ill-fated initiative – one that not only saw the Englishman prove unable to fulfil his 17-year commitment to Bernie Ecclestone's Formula One Management (FOM) company to host the prestigious British round of the F1 World Championship, but also arguably lost Donington the rights to welcome two-wheeled equivalent MotoGP, which had been held there annually since 1987, into the bargain – Wheatcroft acknowledges that there is pressure second time around not to make the same mistake again.
“Sadly everyone knows the direction things went in,” he mused, “and I'm desperate not to repeat that. That's the reason why we need to make absolutely sure that who we choose to take Donington forward is the right decision.”