Former F1 driver Jonathan Palmer’s MSV company takes over Donington Park circuit
Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision company will add the Donington Park track to its collection of racing facilities in the UK, it was announced ...
Jonathan Palmer’s MotorSport Vision company will add the Donington Park track to its collection of racing facilities in the UK, it was announced today.
Former Formula 1 driver Palmer, whose son Jolyon currently races in the championship for the Renault team, runs MSV, which has agreed a deal to take over the running of Donington and the lease to its Park Estate for an initial term of 21 years.
MSV already owns the Brands Hatch, Oulton Park, Snetterton and Cadwell Park tracks, as well as the Bedford Autodrome facility, and it is currently building a new motorsport venue called the Laon Autodrome at a former military airbase in north-eastern France.
Construction entrepreneur Tom Wheatcroft owned the Donington track, which has a motor racing history dating back to the 1930s, for many years, and it hosted the 1993 F1 European Grand Prix – a wet race that was famously dominated by McLaren’s Ayrton Senna.
The 2.498-mile Leicestershire circuit was sold to Donington Ventures Leisure Ltd in 2007, and the company secured the rights to host the British Grand Prix from 2010 in 2008. But it could not raise the necessary funds to complete the changes required to host the race and the venture collapsed in 2009.
Wheatcroft’s son Kevin restored the track, which currently hosts series including British Superbikes, the British Touring Car Championship, British GT and a round of the FIM World Superbike Championship.
Speaking as the news was announced, Palmer said: “I am thrilled that MSV has now acquired the Donington circuit business. Donington has incredible history, being the first permanent road circuit in the country and the only circuit upon which the mighty pre-war Auto Unions and Mercedes Grand Prix cars raced in the 1930s.
“Its modern day existence is purely down to the vision and energy of Tom Wheatcroft, whom I admired enormously. I can still remember the excitement of racing at the new Donington in my Marcos, the year it opened in 1977. However my Donington highlight was taking pole position and winning the FIA Formula 2 Championship round in 1983, and being presented with my trophy by Tom Wheatcroft on the podium. I was later privileged to be commentating for BBC TV when Ayrton Senna took his stunning F1 win at Donington in 1993.
“Like many circuits in the UK, Donington has had a turbulent time over the last ten years, though thankfully Kevin Wheatcroft and his team have now recovered the damage done by the previous owner of the business.
“Donington is a good British circuit that deserves further investment, energy and expertise in order to make it truly outstanding, and MSV will provide this. We plan a great new era for Donington, with some exciting new events and much enhanced quality of experience for all of its customers, whether spectators, competitors and track day participants, together with even better value.”What do you make of the news that MSV will take over the Donington circuit? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below or head over to the JA on F1 Facebook page for more discussion.
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