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Office of Fair Trading reports on Octagon

THE influence of promoters Octagon Motorsport over all national and international motor racing in Britain has been given an all-clear to continue for at least five years by the British government's Department of Trade and Industry.

The DTI's Office of Fair Trading has investigated whether or not Octagon's control of five of Britain's eleven circuits, the British Touring Car, Superbike and Powertour promoted race packages, the rights to stage the British Grand Prix and the commercial rights of the World Superbike Championship are against the public interest.

Britain has 18 licensed circuits, of which the most active are Silverstone, Brands Hatch, Donington Park, Oulton Park, Snetterton, Thruxton, Knockhill, Croft, Rockingham, Castle Combe, Cadwell Park, Mallory Park, Pembrey and Lydden Hill.

Of these circuits Octagon owns Brands Hatch, Cadwell Park, Oulton Park and Snetterton and has taken a 15-year lease of Silverstone in order to stage the British Grand Prix. Octagon has paired up with fellow American firm SFX International, which owns Donington Park, to create the British Motorsport Promoters syndicate that controls every aspect of the British Superbike, British Touring Car and Powertour (British Formula 3 and GT) packages including their support races, gate money and corporate hospitality.

The OFT was called in to see whether or not Octagon's effective ownership of five circuits, the commercial rights to so much of the British sport, and allegations of anti-competitive favoring of Octagon's track day arm, known as On Track, over rival organizations at the five venues it controls.

The fact that Octagon controls five of the 18 circuits in Britain was not, in the OFT's opinion, a monopoly - especially as Silverstone faces regional competition in the Midlands from the new Rockingham facility, established international venue Donington Park and the grass roots facility at Mallory Park.

The report also states that Octagon will not hike entry prices at its venues for the paying public and effectively gives the arrangements that have been set in place since Octagon arrived in 1999 a clean bill of health - although a close watch will be kept. DTI minister Brian Wilson said: "The Commission has proposed that the Director General of Fair Trading should review the operation of the relevant markets within five years. The General Director has agreed to do so."