Brands Hatch has not been included on the British Superbikes calendar for 2009, according to its chief executive Jonathan Palmer – and the reason is one that will look awfully familiar to F1 fans.
It is that Mr Palmer, whose MotorSportVision company owns Brands Hatch, is not prepared to pay the fees being asked by promoter FG Sport.
In a press release issued on the company website he said: “Of course it is very disappointing not to have World Superbikes on the calendar for Brands Hatch next year but I have not been able to agree terms with the promoters of WSB, the Italian-based FG Sport company, run by Paolo and Maurizio Flammini.
“It is obviously their business to obtain the highest fees possible from circuits for having a WSB event but unfortunately FG Sport has demanded a fee over twice as much as MSV paid in 2008, which seems strange given the very obvious global economic crisis.”
Anyone following the saga that saw the British Grand Prix moved from Silverstone to a scheduled race at Donington Park in 2010 will probably be experiencing a strong sense of deja vu at this point.
Damon Hill, BRDC president, said at the time of the Silverstone announcement: “We recognise that it is good that the country has retained the race, but the disappointment is huge. You cannot believe how much it hurts.
“Bernie [Ecclestone] struggles with the concept that F1 is not like the Olympics, which is involved in the regeneration of the East End of London. Taxpayers are happy in principle with that.
â€œBut no one is going to buy into giving F1 money. F1 makes a lot of money, but it goes out of the sport. The problem is that the money made does not go back into developing the infrastructure of F1. We could have had a fantastic venue here that F1 would have loved.”
With Britain and the world on the verge of a painful recession, and the FIA locked in negotiations with F1 teams about introducing cost-cutting measures, it appears that money really is doing the talking right now.
Palmer’s statement continues: “I have made it very clear to FG Sport that we would be delighted to welcome WSB back to Brands Hatch in 2009 but despite considerable negotiation over many weeks the substantially increased offer I made to FG Sport was not acceptable to them.
“The increase in FG Sport’s fee is equivalent to an extra £15 on the price of every race day ticket and we believe that such an increase would not be acceptable to fans in any year, let alone in today’s difficult climate.
“The loss of Brands Hatch will be a shame for British fans but also a big loss for the World Superbike Championship, as Brands Hatch has consistently attracted the biggest crowd of any circuit and will clearly be missed by its promoters and sponsors.
“MSV is however more committed than ever to major motor cycle events at Brands Hatch and we are advancing plans for a major new bike event to take place on the traditional WSB date that will provide fans with outstanding entertainment and value. We anticipate making an announcement within the next month.”
And the winner? Once again it’s Donington Park. A round of the World Superbike Championship is due to be held there on June 28 and, with Brands Hatch out of the picture, presumably expecting to attract quite a crowd.