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Thursday 24th September 2009


FUTURE OF BELGIAN GP IN DOUBT

Spa's operating licence revoked until 2026


The future of the Belgian Grand Prix looks to be in serious doubt after the Belgian government suspended the circuit's operating licence - with immediate effect - until 2026.

The decision has been taken by Belgium's Council of State after a noise complaint was made against the circuit by nearby residents in 2007.

The result of that complaint was that Spa's operator's were ordered to undertake an environmental impact study, which the Belgian government has slammed as "seriously inadequate and incomplete".

"It's quite a shock" circuit boss Pierre-Alain Thibaut told Belgium's Le Soir website. "Since the complaint was made, the whole situation has changed. The circuit has worked hard to reduce noise pollution and our relationship with local residents has been much improved."

Thibaut also said that is was a critical situation for Spa, and would call the "whole viability of the circuit into question,"

It seems Spa will not go down without a fight, however. Thibaut is already planning to appeal against the ruling.

Even if the historic circuit gets its licence back, it may struggle to keep staging a Grand Prix - it was revealed on Sunday that this year's event made a £2.6 million loss.

UPDATE:
PH spies have reported that transporters, cars and crew have been trying to get into the Spa-Francorchamps circuit for this weekend's Spa Six Hours to find the gates locked.

UPDATE 2:
The circuit organisers have lost their appeal, but may yet be granted a reprieve by government. The case has gone to Brussels, so expect a ruling this evening, or possibly tomorrow. Either way there is unlikely to be any Thursday testing, while the Six Hour race weekend itself is in serious doubt.

UPDATE 3:
We understand from the organisers via PH member Bosscerbera (see the thread for pics of his entry in the 6 hours race, and cheer him if you're going) that all is now well for the weekend. The circuit is open as planned, and both the race and practice will go ahead as scheduled. Phew!

(Image: Nathanael Majoros)

Author: Riggers
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