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Decision due on £36m Donington facelift

Published: 08 July 2001

DONINGTON PARK bosses should learn later this month whether they can go ahead with a major £36 million revamp of the Leicestershire circuit.

Giant American entertainment company SFX, which leases Donington from owner Tom Wheatcroft, is expected to invest the money if planning permission is granted for the circuit modifications.

SFX has not yet committed the money to the project, but Donington chiefs expect the company to agree to go ahead with the scheme if it gets a green light from planners.

North West Leicestershire District Council officials will meet later this month to review a planning application to radically alter the circuit and bring it in line with some of the ultra-modern circuits around the world like the new Sepang circuit in Malaysia and Lausitzring in Germany.

The pits and paddock area will be bulldozed and a new facility built on the infield area running from Coppice down to the Fogarty Esses.

Coppice Corner is being changed and the Fogarty Esses will disappear completely under the new plans. Starkey’s Straight will be extended and run into a tight right-hand hairpin similar to the existing Melbourne Loop. A new grandstand and shopping mall will be put on the outside of Starkey’s Straight in the area where the Exhibition Centre is situated.

The Loop will not be used in its current format and Goddard's will not feature in the new layout, either, though a similar low-gear left-hander will take its place, leading on to part of what is currently the start-finish straight. Redgate, Craner Curves, Old Hairpin and Schwantz Curve will remain untouched. The current short start-finish straight running from Goddard's to Redgate will also be lengthened and will include a fast right-hand kink on the run-up to the first corner.

A major redevelopment of Donington has been mooted for a number of years as paddock and spectator facilities have come in for heavy criticism.

The pits are widely regarded as the worst on the whole GP calendar and some teams were complaining again at the weekend as they had to clean up oil from their garage floor before they could set up.

Fans have often complained about sub-standard toilets and food outlets as well as poor viewing areas. The new plans include the installation of several temporary grandstands around the track and improved trackside facilities.

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