Lydden Hill revamp delays led to losing UK World RX round
Lydden Hill owner Pat Doran says the circuit's inability to deliver new facilities in time contributed to the British track losing the UK's round of the FIA World Rallycross Championship to Silverstone from 2018.
He insisted, however, that the British circuit will continue its plans for development.
The Kent circuit will host the British round of World RX for the fourth and final time at the end of May, having returned to the international rallycross calendar in 2009, and hosting a World RX round since the sport gained FIA World status in 2014.
Planning applications to the local authority (Dover District Council) were made in 2015 to upgrade the venue's infrastructure by building a new entrance, grandstands and hospitality centre, but planning permission is yet to be secured, a factor Doran feels contributed to the World RX event being moved to Silverstone.
"Initial contract discussions with (World Rallycross promoter) IMG included the delivery of a development plan at Lydden Hill," said Doran.
"In 2015 the circuit applied to Dover District Council to build a new entrance, grandstands and hospitality centre which fell in line with the rising demands of the growing event and customer expectations.
"However, the application has dragged on and although I have never based the new development on keeping the World Championship contract, I feel sure our inability to deliver the new facilities in a timely manner may have slightly influenced the decision to move the World RX round."
The circuit will work to make the 2017 World RX round 'the best yet', in the year that the sport celebrates the 50th anniversary of the first event, held at Lydden Hill on February 4 1967, won by versatile racer Vic Elford in a Porsche 911.
"Our eyes are on this year's World RX event. We anticipate that it will be the most memorable (at Lydden), particularly as it is the 50th anniversary celebration.
"However, after this year's event, I do wish Silverstone every success with their first World RX round in 2018. Although Lydden is sad to lose the event, we are looking forward with excitement and optimism that the planning application for the new facilities will come to fruition."
Rallycross events will continue to be held at Lydden. The circuit hosts two rounds of the MSA British Rallycross Championship each year, on its traditional Easter Bank Holiday and August Bank Holiday slots.
"Rallycross is still a big focus, we enjoy a fantastic working relationship with BARC, who have worked very hard to bring the sport forward in Britain, and we will continue to work with them helping to grow the British Championship, which goes from strength to strength.
"I feel confident that Lydden will continue to thrive and we look forward to being able to offer fabulous new facilities and an exciting events calendar in the near future. Who knows, we may yet see World Rallycross back at Lydden one day."
For many years, Lydden Hill has been restricted to 52 days of use annually, due to opposition from local residents.
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