Simon Gillett, the chief executive of Donington Park, has revealed that work has already started at the East Midlands venue as it prepares to become the host of the British Grand Prix from 2010.
The local council revealed on Thursday that the planning application lodged by the circuit had been approved, with revisions to the layout of the venue and a new pit and paddock complex amongst the proposals that went before the council.
Speaking to the press during the annual Autosport International
show, Gillett said he was thrilled to see the application go through as the focus now turns to getting ready for the FIA track inspection that will take place in April 2010.
“I don't want to sound arrogant, but we were always confident we were going to get it,” he said. “It was a great process working with North West Leicestershire Council and they have been very supportive from the off, and we all had a strong feeling it was going to happen. But, when everyone said yes, it was still a fantastic relief.
“Planning is always a challenge, but while there have been rumours of opposition, if you look at the council offices, the last meeting they held was for a local planning application in Castle Donington and they had seven objectors turn up. For a plan of our size, they had two objectors turned up; one local resident and one parish councillor. So, there are plenty of rumours and people like to peddle those negative rumours, but the reality is that the vast majority of people are incredibly supportive of what we are doing at Donington and that is why it went through with a unanimous decision.”
Gillett revealed that work has already started on a tunnel that will allow contractors with access to the infield area of the circuit, which allow work to carry on through the season with minimal impact on on-track activities.
“You can't drive the circuit at the moment as there is a 25 metre hole, eight metres deep at the moment between Coppice and McLeans where we have started work on the tunnel, so we are already underway with our work,” he said. “That will be completed by 20th February when we will re-open the track and that is the tunnel that will give us access to the middle of the circuit so we can continue with the building process.
“The majority of the construction work, the new loop, the new paddock, is on the infield so what we had to do is make sure we had unobstructed access to the infield so we can get into the circuit to work with the track running round the outside of it. There is no disruption to the calendar at all and the only disruption is that infield viewing will be restricted this year.”