Spectators banned from BTCC races, days before opening round

BTCC

Government unexpectedly ranks BTCC among ‘elite’ sports, so ticket holders can no longer attend Donington Park this weekend

Colin Turkington's BMW at Donington Park during the 2019 BTCC season

Spectators would have been spread across the site under Donington's plans

BTCC

Ticket sales have been halted for this weekend’s opening round of the British Touring Car Championship after the government classified the series as an ‘elite sport’.

Donington Park’s owners MSV says that it began selling “a modest number” of tickets to the event after agreement from local councils and in the expectation that the races would not be classed in the top sporting category.

At present, spectators are not allowed to attend elite events, which include Premier League football and Rugby League matches as well as the Formula 1 British Grand Prix.

That roster now includes BTCC races following a consultation by the Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport (DCMS).

Ticket-holders are now being asked not to attend because fans will not be admitted.

We are very disappointed and frustrated by this turn of events, and are so sorry for the inconvenience this decision will cause to the fans we were expecting to welcome this weekend,” said MSV.

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“We have worked closely with North West Leicestershire District Council and Leicestershire County Council on our plans to welcome spectators to the BTCC event this weekend.

“A multi-agency Safety Advisory Group approved MSV’s Covid-Secure policies and confirmed its support for our plans for the opening round of BTCC at Donington Park.

“This approval was subject only to DCMS being satisfied that BTCC is not elite sport. Regrettably, following consultation, DCMS has confirmed today that this is not the case.

“We are incredibly disappointed to inform BTCC fans that we will be unable to allow spectators or season pass holders to attend this weekend’s British Touring Car event at Donington Park after all.

“An event including a round of BTCC, as the leading car championship in the UK, must follow the government’s five stage elite sport pathway with spectators presently unable to attend.”

Donington Park’s plan had included spreading the limited number of spectators across “dozens” of viewing areas in the open air

MSV contrasted this with typical top-level football or rugby matches “that tend to attract huge crowds, mostly in stadiums, and typically rely on public transport.

MSV has asked ticket-holders to wait for information.