Silverstone MotoGP switch not money motivated

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MotoGP boss Carmelo Ezpeleta has denied his shock decision to move the British GP back to Silverstone for the first time in over 20 years was money motivated.

MCN understands that Silverstone paid around £3m to Dorna to win the rights to host Britain’s biggest motorcycle race from the 2010 world championship onwards following the signing of a five-year deal recently.

That figure is believed to have dwarfed the fee paid by Donington Park, whose management had been locked in negotiations with Dorna over an extension to its current deal, which expires after this July’s race.

Donington management had intended to retain the rights to stage the British GP, which now regularly attracts massive crowds of over 80,000 fans, to make the Leicestershire circuit the premier motorsport venue in the UK.

Speaking exclusively to MCN, Ezpeleta said: “In principle, the most important reason to move the British MotoGP race is because if we had stayed in Donington then it was possible that Silverstone wouldn’t have made any changes and we would have had only one UK track homologated.

“In my opinion if Donington, which has already signed an agreement with Formula One and with World Superbikes has those, I would like to have more than one opportunity to race in one country.

“The main reason was we never asked Donington for more or less money. We took the decision because we think if everything is moving to Donington when Silverstone is ready to make the necessary works to homologate the circuit, it is interesting for me to keep open competition, “said Ezpeleta.

Silverstone will embark on a £5m redevelopment of its own in November to bring the Northamptonshire circuit up to MotoGP standard.

Simulations for the revised layout predict Silverstone will become the fastest race on the MotoGP calendar with an average lap speed of 113mph.

That just beats the Phillip Island circuit in Australia, which is the current fastest track on the MotoGP calendar.

Ezpeleta denied that the decision to quit Donington after 23 years was strange given the imminent £100m revamp of the Leicestershire track to accommodate the British Formula One race in 2010.

“It is not because of commercial reasons or that Silverstone wanted to pay more money. We prefer to have another venue open for events like we have. We think it is better that we can be in different circuits.

“Also because normally we use the same part of the year as Formula One, there could be problems being at the same circuit. We think it is better for MotoGP to be in Silverstone,“ added Ezpeleta.

Matthew Birt

By Matthew Birt