Proposed Circuit of Wales suffers fresh government setback

© Circuit of Wales
1 Comment

The proposed Circuit of Wales has suffered a fresh setback after the Welsh government announced it would not underwrite the £357 million project.

The Circuit of Wales is intended to be the newest permanent racing facility in the UK, and had a contract to host the British MotoGP round from 2015 until 2019.

The race remained at Silverstone for 2015 and is likely to until 2017 at the earliest, but there are now fresh doubts about the viability of the Circuit of Wales project.

Heads of The Valleys Development Company, the body behind the circuit, announced last November it had secured the finance required to buy the land in the Blaneu Gwent region thanks to insurance company Aviva.

However, the Welsh government informed HOTVDC earlier this week that it would not underwrite the £357 million ($503 million) project due to concerns about its viability and the risks involved.

“The final official advice recommends that I should not agree to underwriting the £357.4m Aviva investment in the scheme for two reasons,” economy minister Edwina Hart wrote to Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones.

“Firstly the significant question around the viability of the project and secondly the unacceptable risk to the Welsh Government of in effect underwriting the entire project.

“These two factors mean that there is both a significant value for money gap and a real legal challenge around issuing such a guarantee.

“As you will be aware we have been working to support this project for a significant period of time and have already in effect spent around £9 million in support of its development.

“We also explored sharing the risk with several local authorities, and that option also failed unfortunately.

“In these last few days we have considered that a guarantee of 80 per cent of the total value of the project may have reduced our risk to an acceptable level, but the Circuit have not been able to secure any real private risk capital and so this option has not been possible.”

HOTVDC responded by saying it would explore alternative commercial options following this setback.

“We respect and understand the minister’s decision on the support for a 100 per cent guarantee for our private funding,” CEO Michael Carrick said.

“While this was our clear preference and reflective of the negotiations we have held over the past six months, we accept that the project will need to progress on revised terms.”

Starting lineup grid for IMSA Petit Le Mans: Tom Blomqvist puts MSR on pole position

Petit Le Mans lineup
IMSA
0 Comments

IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar championship contender Tom Blomqvist put the Meyer Shank Racing Acura at the front of the starting lineup for the Motul Petit Le Mans at Michelin Road Atlanta.

Blomqvist turned a 1-minute, 8.55-second lap on the 2.54-mile circuit Friday to capture his third pole position for MSR this season. Earl Bamber qualified second in the No. 02 Cadillac for Chip Ganassi Racing.

Ricky Taylor was third in the No. 10 Acura of Wayne Taylor Racing, which enters Saturday’s season finale with a 19-point lead over the No. 60 of Blomqvist and Oliver Jarvis (who will be joined by Helio Castroneves) for the 10-hour race.

PETIT LE MANS STARTING GRID: Click here for the starting lineup l Lineup by car number

PETIT LE MANS: Info on how to watch

With the pole, MSR sliced the deficit to 14 points behind WTR, which will field the trio of Taylor, Filipe Albuquerque and Brendon Hartley in Saturday’s race.

“We really needed to put the car in this kind of position,” Blomqvist said. “It makes our life a little less stressful tomorrow. It would have given the No. 10 a bit more breathing space. It’s going to be a proper dogfight tomorrow. The guys gave me such a great car. It’s been fantastic this week so far, and it really came alive. I’m hugely thankful to the boys and girls at MSR for giving me the wagon today to execute my job.

“That was a big effort from me. I knew how important it was. It’s just awesome for the guys to give them some sort of reward as well. It’s always nice to be quick. If you do the pole, you know you’ve got a quick car.”

Though WTR has a series-leading four victories with the No. 10, MSR won the Rolex 24 at Daytona and has five runner-up finishes along with its three poles.

The strong performances of the ARX-05s ensure that an Acura will win the final championship in IMSA’s premier Daytona Prototype international (DPi) division, which is being rebranded as Grand Touring Prototype in the move to LMDh cars next season.

Taylor qualified third despite sliding into the Turn 5 gravel during the closing minutes of qualifying while pushing to gain points.

“Qualifying was important for points,” Taylor said. “Going into it, if we outqualified the No. 60 Meyer Shank Acura, they had a lot to lose in terms of championship points. So, we were trying to increase the gap over 20 points which would’ve made a big difference for tomorrow. We would have loved to get the pole and qualify ahead of the No. 60, but in the scheme of the points, it didn’t change a whole lot. I’m feeling good since it’s such a long race, and the No. 10 Konica Minolta Acura team does such a good job strategizing and putting us in a good position.

“I’m very confident in our lineup and our team compared to them over the course of 10 hours. I’d put my two teammates up against those guys any day. I think we are all feeling optimistic and strong for tomorrow.”

In other divisions, PR1 Mathiasen Motorsports (LMP2), Riley Motorsports (LMP3), VasserSullivan (GTD Pro) and Paul Miller Racing (GTD) captured pole positions.

The broadcast of the 10-hour race will begin Saturday at 12:10 p.m. ET on NBC, moving at 3 p.m. to USA Network.


QUALIFYING

Results

Results by class

Fastest lap by driver

Fastest lap by driver after qualifying

Fastest lap by driver and class after qualifying

Fastest lap sequence in qualifying

Best sector times in qualifying

Time cards in qualifying

PRACTICE RESULTS: Session I l Session II l Session III