Former reporter leads GP consortium

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A 46-year-old woman who once indulged her passion for motor sport as a freelance magazine reporter heads a consortium hoping to save the British Grand Prix today.

Kim Cockburn, of Brand Synergy Limited, a group of motor sport enthusiasts that also includes the former Formula One word champion Nigel Mansell, and her backers will meet representatives of the British Racing Drivers' Club, owners of Silverstone, intent on securing a deal that will ensure the future of the race at the Northamptonshire circuit.

Cockburn claims to have reached agreement with Bernie Ecclestone, head of Formula One's commercial affairs, for a seven-year licence. She declined to say whether Brand Synergy would pay the £9m Ecclestone demanded of the BRDC for next year's race.

"That is confidential but I can confirm that we have agreed the going European rate for a grand prix,'' she said. Cockburn and her fellow board directors began formulating their plans last year and formed Brand Synergy for the sole purpose of pursuing their objective in May.

The other directors are Robb Gravett, the former racing driver once managed by Cockburn, David Phipps, a former photographer and confidante to Colin Chapman, founder of Lotus, and Peter Nelkin, a former chairman of Luton Town FC. They have financial support from Quintain, the developers of Wembley Stadium, Greenwich Peninsular, two banks and private equity.

Cockburn said: "We're doing this purely to save the British Grand Prix. We're all racing nuts and old mates. We could see the signs last year and started working on this. Bernie knows we're serious and we'll be meeting the BRDC to give them all the information they require and take this forward. We're determined to make sure this country keeps its grand prix.''

Mansell, who won five grands prix on home ground, said: "I wouldn't have come onboard unless I felt it was a serious effort. We're all working for one very important cause - to save the British Grand Prix.

"We're doing this for British motor sport and British racing fans and because we believe it would be awful if we did not have a British Grand Prix in the future. The BRDC came out with comments some time ago that not enough people were doing enough to save the race - well, we're trying to do our bit now.''