The owners of Lydden Hill have dispelled fears the race circuit will close following the loss of a money-spinning event attended by thousands.
Organisers of the FIA World Rallycross Championship announced yesterday that they will move the prestigious British round from the Canterbury track to Silverstone from 2018.
Motorsport fans took to social media to express their worries for the venue, fearing the circuit will be unable to survive without the meeting, which attracted a record 20,000 people last year.
But circuit boss Pat Doran told KentOnline's sister paper, the Kentish Gazette: “We have got other events coming and the circuit is not going anywhere.
“I wish Silverstone all the best, but I think it is the wrong decision and I think they will struggle to get the atmosphere Lydden gets.
“We always knew it was never guaranteed we would keep the world championship and we knew the organisers were looking at other ideas, but we have got some other big events coming here.
“We are going to concentrate now on the British Rallycross Championship and we have got lots of other things going on like truck and classic car shows – I am confident the circuit will continue.”
The 57-year-old, who has owned the Wootton track for seven years, applied to Dover District Council in 2015 to build a new entrance, grandstands and hospitality centre.
But planning permission has yet to be gained, which Mr Doran thinks was the main factor in the decision of world championship promoters IMG to move the event to Silverstone.
He added: “The planning has gone on and on. I think it has got a lot to do with the decision because we have not been able to do what we wanted to do and told IMG we could.
"I think they will struggle to get the atmosphere Lydden gets..." - Pat Doran
“I never based the developments on keeping the world championship, but we need to move on and that is what we are doing.
“There has been no animosity between IMG and Lydden – they know they can get 100,000 people at Silverstone and the whole idea is to combine the rallycross with a music festival.
“We got marked as one of the best events on the calendar last year and although we have lost it for the moment, it does not mean it will not come back in three or four years.”
Mr Doran, who has won the British Rallycross Championship four times, says he will continue to work on the multi-million pound development proposals.
Lydden is regarded as the birthplace of rallycross, having been used for the sport’s first event in February 1967.
The circuit will still host round five of the 2017 World Rallycross Championship on May 27-28, which Mr Doran says will be the venue’s “biggest-ever” event.
The Classic Touring Car Racing Club will also return to the track this summer, appearing on Saturday, August 12.
Visit www.lyddenhill.co.uk for details
For more reaction, see this week's Kentish Gazette and East Kent Mercury, out Thursday