Spa Promoter Facing Double Tax Bill

The Belgian Grand Prix promoter has admitted facing a double tax bill after the communities saddled by the circuit, Malmedy and Stavelot, both claimed fiscal dues

A court hearing is scheduled "probably for December," Didier Defourny said during a visit to the Spanish Grand Prix, and admitted the disputed taxes total €1,6m.

He stressed the 2005 race, scheduled for September 11, was safe, but refused to comment on rumours that last year's event, reinstated after a year's absence over a tobacco row, had lost €2,9m.

Defourny stated "final figures will be available next month, then you can see what the situation is, but the intention was never to show a profit for the first three years."

He added that sureties issued to Formula One Management were in order.

"Every time the race's date is confirmed, the Walloon government provides guarantees to Bernie Ecclestone," he said. The deal with FOM has six of the original seven years still to run.

Defourny acknowledged last year's race was hit by a raft of traffic and facility problems.

"Some of the situations, like traffic due to road works around Liege and a bus catching fire under a bridge on race day, were out of our hands, whilst the area experienced heavy rains in the week before the event, causing muddy car parks and toilet problems.

"But we are looking at many aspects, and will change traffic flows and make parking area entries on high ground, and exits on lower levels. We are working hard at solving the toilet problems."

Asked whether the circuit would continue its practise of discounting race weekend tickets - by up to 47% in some instances -  Defourny said: "We will have to see what actions we make to sell tickets, but cannot be seen to be cheapening Formula One.

"It is the pinnacle (of motorsport), and we will never cheapen it by selling Friday tickets for €25 like some other circuits."

Improvements requested by the sport's controlling body, the FIA, were being made to the track, Defourny disclosed.

"We are resurfacing the braking area leading up to the Bus Stop," he added. "We changed that part for last year, and it proved too bumpy, so that will be fixed, and we have to make asphalt run-off areas at Pouhon to replace the gravel traps there. these will be completed by September."

Last year 60,000 tickets for the Belgian Grand Prix's opening day were given away free with a tank of petrol at participating filling stations.

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