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Gillett insists British GP is not in doubt

Simon GillettDonington Ventures boss Simon Gillett has vehemently denied that the British Grand Prix's move to Donington Park has been jeopardised by the circuit-owning Wheatcroft family's legal action against his company.

The Wheatcrofts recently announced that they were suing Donington Ventures over an alleged 2.47 million in unpaid rent and were seeking to end the firm's lease on the circuit, which is scheduled to host the British GP from 2010.

But Gillett insisted that the Wheatcrofts remained supportive and that the current disagreement between them would be swiftly resolved.

"We're still going to make sure the grand prix is here," Gillett told the BBC. "We have our little trials and tribulations at the moment, but we're still going to make sure the grand prix's coming to Donington next year.

"Headlines are always headlines. There's a lot going on in the background that we can't go into at the moment, but that gives us confidence because we know what's going on behind the scenes.

"Between us and the Wheatcrofts we had an agreement of ongoing works and a way that we could allocate funds over a period of time during the winter. We've used them elsewhere and we're working with the Wheatcrofts to resolve that issue. But you should see a resolution on that one very soon.

"We'll be in a position to sort that out very soon, and we're working through the detail of that as we speak."

When asked if the legal action had put the British GP in jeopardy, Gillett replied: "No".

Donington had originally been expected to reveal full details of the debenture scheme that will fund its huge revamp in March, but the anticipated announcement never took place. Gillett admitted that the global financial crisis had hit Donington's plans.

"The debenture scheme was gone forward as we thought. The research and the first phase of that have come out as we wanted," he said.

"What's changed is in the wonderful world of banking at the moment. We had a bit of an issue with our private funding source. We're now having to go back and look at other alternative funding sources for the debenture scheme. But we're positive on that. We should have some answers on that very soon.

"We've seen many a strong bank go west. It's nothing to do with Donington Park, but the world of banking has changed. So the bank that we were planning to work with at that point has decided they're not in the market anymore. So we've had to go and find alternative banks, and there are banks in the market for it, and we're working through the detail now."

He insisted that the rebuilding project could still be completed on schedule despite the issues facing Donington at present.

"We've had a nine-month construction programme, and that's never changed," said Gillett.

"We've always known that we could do everything we had to in nine months. We had a bit more leeway than we've alluded to in the past, and we've had to use that. We'd rather have used it in the construction phase, but we're having to use it in the financing phase."

Yesterday North West Leicestershire District Council agreed to give Donington's operators and owners until 30 June to sign the Section 106 document it needs to avoid planning permission for its rebuild being revoked. The legal case between the Wheatcrofts and DVL will be heard on 8 June.

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