RAPID CONSTRUCTION of new access roads and car parking looks to have assured the future of the British Grand Prix at Silverstone this week.
The British leg of the Grand Prix series has been under threat after bad weather in 2000 caused traffic chaos with tens of thousands of spectators unable to reach the circuit in time for the race.
To avoid a repeat, Octagon Motorsports, which operates Silverstone on behalf of the British Racing Drivers Club, has been forced to cut race day tickets by half to 60,000.
Octagon was also forced to offer Formula One's governing body, the FIA, a -5M (£3.6M) bond guaranteeing that proposed infrastructure improvements would be in place for the 2002 race.
This week, contractors are finishing £10.6M of road and parking improvements at the circuit, meeting Octagon's deadline to have improvements in place for the British leg of the World Superbikes championship at the weekend.
Contractor Fitzpatrick has completed the critical phase of its £4.1M contract to dual the 1.5km Silverstone access, Dadford Road, in just 12 weeks.
Had it failed to meet the target, it would have faced liquidated damages of £0.5M. If construction carried over into the British Grand Prix in July, the contractor would have faced damages totalling £1M.
The £10.6M scheme, designed by consultant WSP, also includes 11ha of new car parks, and links directly into the A43 which is currently being dualled by the Highways Agency under a separate contract.
This was due to be complete in time for the 2002 Grand Prix, providing fully dualled access direct to the circuit from the M40 and M1. But foot and mouth disease and two wet winters badly disrupted construction (NCE 27 September 2001).
The government granted joint venture contractor CostainSkanska an extra £8M to guarantee that the scheme is sufficiently advanced to allow at least two lanes to provide dedicated circuit access for the Grand Prix. This was in recognition of the importance of the Grand Prix to the motor industry. Work continues to ensure the deadline is met.
INFOPLUS www. octagonmotorsports. com