Donnington Grand Prix hopes left hanging

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The Independent Online

The future of Donington Park and its staff is now a serious concern following the withdrawal of a bond designed to secure the British Grand Prix.

Ten days ago circuit chiefs issued a last-ditch plea to potential investors to help raise the money required to stage the race, due to be held on July 11.



Donington Holdings PLC, the parent company of Donington Ventures Leisure Limited run by chief executive Simon Gillett, said they were looking to secure £135million through the issue of high-yield bonds.



But in a statement DVLL today confirmed the bond "to cover the cost of the redevelopment at Donington Park has been unsuccessful".



The statement added: "Despite higher than expected levels of interest and very positive early indications, the bond - which was launched with Citi Group last week - has failed to secure enough subscription ahead of today's deadline.



"The news dealt an unexpected blow to staff and management at the circuit, who still have a deadline of 12pm on Monday 26 October to remedy a breach of contract with Formula One rights holder Bernie Ecclestone, in order to keep any plans for retaining the existing 17-year Formula One contract alive."



Rather than now fighting to secure the British Grand Prix, Gillett now appears to be fighting to save the track and its employees.



"Information regarding the circuit's future plans is not yet available," added the statement.



"However, the major focus is on providing security for the Leicestershire venue and all related parties, including staff and suppliers."



Given the nature of the situation, and with the oldest race in F1 history on the line, one of two options lies open to Ecclestone.



Either the 78-year-old steps in to save Donington by putting up the money himself or, as is more likely, he will thrash out a deal with Silverstone, the home of the race for the last 23 years.



However, Damon Hill, president of the British Racing Drivers' Club that owns Silverstone, has stated the circuit is only interested in a similar 17-year contract to Donington, not for just the one year should Gillett continue to try to find the necessary funds.



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