Motor Racing: Silverstone's odyssey to 2001

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OFFICIALS of Silverstone circuit claimed yesterday they had secured a new long-term agreement to host the British Grand Prix until 2001. If the deal is confirmed, it will be a severe setback to the aspirations of Tom Wheatcroft, the owner of Donington Park, writes Derick Allsop.

Silverstone's contract expires in 1996 and they were warned by the sport's authorities that extensive improvements to facilities would be required for them to keep the race for a further five years.

John Handley, the chairman of the British Racing Drivers' Club, guardians of Silverstone, announced that an agreement had been reached with the Formula One Constructors' Association. He said: 'This allows the BRDC the stability to implement plans for improving the circuit for competitors and spectators alike.'

Wheatcroft made it known he intended to compete for the British round of the championship after staging the Grand Prix of Europe on Easter Day. He may now have to concentrate his efforts to earn another European race. He has also revealed plans to build an oval circuit and will be at the head of the queue if such a facility is needed in this country.