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Wheatcrofts vow to reopen Donington

Donington's Dunlop Bridge dismantledDonington Park's owning family has said it is committed to reopening the racetrack as soon as possible following the collapse of its Formula 1 bid and the lease-holding company.

After Donington Ventures Leisure Limited went into administration in November having failed to raise the funds required for the circuit's F1 revamp, a new buyer was sought for the lease on the track. But with no one coming forward to take over, control of the circuit has returned to the owning Wheatcroft family.

The track's rebuild had begun before the project ran into financial problems, so substantial work is required to bring Donington Park back into use.

Kevin Wheatcroft, son of former circuit boss Tom Wheatcroft, who died last year, said efforts to get the track open again were underway.

"I can reassure people we are doing everything we can to get things back to normal at Donington Park," Wheatcroft told the Derby Telegraph.

"It has been a very difficult time for the whole family, especially with the death of my father being played out against the problems at the circuit.

"We were given back the keys to the circuit back and immediately started to work out what happens next. The first thing has been to try to save as many jobs as possible. As of this week, we have reopened the museum and cafe and race control office.

"We have been assessing what is required to put things back as they were. We reckon this will cost in the region of about 600,000, but to get it up to grand prix standard you could add a couple of zeroes.

"We want to get the place operational again. Hopefully we can get up and running again as soon as possible."

But he said the Wheatcrofts were still looking for an outside company to pick up the lease and take charge of running the circuit in the long-term.

"First we need to sell the lease to someone who can run the circuit on a full-time basis," said Wheatcroft.

"It's too big a job for us and we want to identify someone who can take it forward. There are no shortage of people interested and we have found 12 potential buyers for the lease in just 12 days."

He is not concerned about the administrator's failure to find a buyer for the lease when it was originally offered before Christmas.

"In my view, the debts and problems associated with the whole nightmare put people off," he said. "I think everyone felt misled by the situation."

As well as Silverstone reclaiming Britain's F1 race, MotoGP is also switching from Donington to the Northamptonshire track. Donington was dropped from the 2010 British Superbike calendar during the uncertainty over its future, but it remains on the World Superbike and British Touring Car Championship schedules - with those races scheduled for 1 August and 19 September respectively.

Wheatcroft added that he felt he owed it to his late father to give the circuit a successful future.

"My father lived for his work and motorsport," he said. "He put his heart and soul into Donington Park and he was very upset by what happened to it and the mess it was left in.

"I am particularly upset because the Donington problems took up time that should have been spent with my father as he was dying.

"Whatever happens in the future, I will make sure this name will always be synonymous with the park."

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