British circuit Lydden Hill has eyes on a return to the World Rallycross Championship calendar in the future, once a number of improvements to the venue have been implemented.
In January, Dover District Council’s Planning Committee granted approval for a £5.5m development at the Kent venue, including a new access road to ease traffic issues, and a new pavilion building in the paddock.
The plans also include diversification on top of Lydden’s 52 days of circuit running a year, including events for cycling, hospitality, corporate VIP days and the like, to give something back to the local community and to assist it making the venue financially viable.
Having hosted the first ever rallycross event in 1967, and held a round of the World Rallycross Championship from 2014 to 2017, Lydden lost the British round to Silverstone for 2018.
But for 2020, a UK round was missing from the World RX schedule.
“Our focus is on the 5 Nations British Rallycross Championship at the moment, but we lost the World Championship [round] in my view because we didn’t have the facilities to be able to hold a world championship event, but no one can deny that the atmosphere and the racing was probably the best in the world,” Lydden boss and former rallycross champion Pat Doran told Motorsport.com.
“I understood when [World RX promoter] IMG took the event away because of that and to be honest it was probably our own fault because planning has come maybe three years later than it should have done.”
Doran has worked on securing planning permission to upgrade the venue for the last seven years, having taken over the circuit’s lease from the McLaren Group in 2008, before subsequently buying the venue.
“I’d promised that we would get it [planning for improvements] and it’s taken a lot longer than we hoped.
“But now we’ve got those facilities coming in the next couple of years, hopefully we could hold the world championship round again. It’s a real shame to a lot of people that we don’t have a world championship round in the UK at the moment, so that’s always the hope.”
Doran says that the changes to the venue will be a benefit to all concerned, but that the current COVID-19 situation could slightly delay the upgrades.
“Now we can see light at the end of the tunnel, it’s very exciting,” he said. “We’ve had to do a lot of work with the local community, making it work for them. I think a situation like this is going to be a win-win for everybody.
“The planning we’ve got is to be able to use the circuit for all sorts of things. We’ve still got a lot of work to, I’d say we’re about 70% of the way through. It was to be two years to do the road and the building, but I think could turn into three now with the current [COVID-19] situation.”
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