By Alan Baldwin
LONDON (Reuters) – Silverstone’s future as a venue for MotoGP, as well as Formula One, looks uncertain after a draft calendar published on Wednesday had no circuit listed for next year’s British motorcycle grand prix.
A slot for the 12th of 19 races, with the only novelty being a grand prix in Thailand on Oct. 7, was included on Aug. 26 but with asterisks to indicate that the circuit was yet to be decided.
Silverstone has hosted MotoGP since 2010, most recently as part of an agreement with the unbuilt Circuit of Wales that had secured a five-year deal with series promoters Dorna from 2015-19.
That contract has ended after the 433 million pound ($574 million) project failed to get off the ground, with the Welsh government ruling out under-writing half of the costs.
The hosting rights are again up for tender, with Donington Park back in contention after being taken over in January by ex-Formula One racer Jonathan Palmer.
“We plan a great new era for Donington, with some exciting new events and much enhanced quality of experience,” he said at the time.
Donington hosted the British Motorcycle Grand Prix for 23 years before losing it to Silverstone when the East Midlands track fell into disrepair following a failed bid to host Formula One.
Silverstone, which has become a popular track with MotoGP riders, this year activated a break clause in its Formula One contract that cast uncertainty over the future of that race after 2019.
Stuart Pringle, the circuit’s managing director, told Reuters on Wednesday that the MotoGP contract came down to Donington or Silverstone.
He said that, while ultimately the decision may come down to money, Silverstone had shown Dorna it could stage a secure event with grandstand seating for 75,000 spectators.
Pringle expected a decision within weeks but said he was also ‘very relaxed’ about the possibility of losing the MotoGP race.
“These events have to make economic sense,” he said. “It’s not business critical whereas haemorrhaging money on promoters’ fees does become critical.”
John Grant, the chairman of the British Racing Drivers’ Club that owns Silverstone, said in July that the circuit sustained losses of 4.8 million pounds on the Formula One race in 2016 due mainly to annual increases in hosting fees.
Silverstone has the biggest attendance of any Formula One grand prix, with a four-day total of 300,000 in 2017, but MotoGP crowds are far lower with only 56,000 on race day this year.
(Reporting by Alan Baldwin, editing by Christian Radnedge)