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APRIL 18, 2001

Stewart leads calls of disappointment over investigation

IN the wake of the British government's decision to investigate last year's deal between the British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) and Octagon, the club's president Jackie Stewart has led the calls of disappointment at the move and questioned its necessity.

"We are surprised by the referral," said Stewart, who has worked tirelessly to ensure the future of the British Grand Prix. "It is a complication that, we believe, needs to be dealt with promptly to remove any doubt about this country's commitment to a sport and industry that together represent one of our greatest achievements."

He added: "The British Racing Drivers' Club (BRDC) entered the agreement with Octagon in December 2000 as the only way in which the British Grand Prix could be secured for the foreseeable future.

"We took that decision in the interests of the whole of our sport, with an investment of $60 million (dollars) to raise Silverstone to the highest standards. The agreement has been broadly welcomed by the sport, the motor industry, and the Government at all levels."

The BRDC, which owns Silverstone, reached agreement with Octagon Motorsports, who hold the rights to promote the British Grand Prix from 2002 for 15 years, to lease the track to them for that time. This deal, signed last December, signalled the future security of the race at the Northamptonshire circuit.

But the British government's Trade Secretary Stephen Byers was on Wednesday reported to be concerned that the deal is unfair to other circuits. He referred the matter to the Competitions Commission, recommending an investigation.

The Competitions Commission is expected to complete its investigation by August 6.