Update 3 | MEPA used motorsports ‘as leverage to get at Polidano Bros’

FM Promotions Ltd director Adrian Figallo alleges ‘abuse of power’ by MEPA after the authority’s refusal to issue a temporary permit for three days

King of Europe drift champion Adam Kerenyi's car
King of Europe drift champion Adam Kerenyi's car

Motorsports enthusiasts believe that the Planning Authority used this weekend’s international drift-racing event “to get at” Polidano Bros, owners of the Montekristo Estates.

The King of Europe Malta drifting competition was to be held at the Montekristo Estates, a site that faces multiple enforcement notices. The Planning Authority has however refused to recognise a licence issued to Montekristo Estates just a few months ago to hold another public event, according to FM Promotions Ltd director Adrian Figallo.

“It could also be the case that MEPA abused of its power…it could have issued a temporary permit of three days, a power which the authority has,” Figallo told reporters gathered at Montekristo Estates late on Friday evening.

He said it “was clear” that MEPA used the drifting event to get at Polidano Brothers, using motorsports as leverage.

The weekend activity has now been transferred to Hal Far, following an offer made by the Malta Drag Racing Association. The decision was taken after repeated attempts to try and get the necessary permits.

“Perhaps MEPA did not understand the weight and importance of this event,” Figallo added.

The King of Europe championship is recognised as the top European drift-racing event, with over 1.1 million followers. FM Promotions have been working for the past two years in order to attract the international competition to Malta. In Figallo’s words, “we managed to scare international drivers away in four days”.

Over 300 people gathered at Montekristo in Hal Farrug dismantled the tents and transferred the cars to Hal Far, where works went on late in the night in preparation for Saturday’s and Sunday’s events.

Motorsports enthusiasts voluntarily joined in and gave a helping hand to the participating teams and organisers in moving the event, symbolising the solidarity that exists amongst the motorsports community.

Figallo said the motorsports community had truly believed that the Labour Party would maintain its pledge towards supporting motorsports, considered to be the ‘Cinderella’ of sports in Malta.

“We are convinced that with a different approach by the authorities, a solution could have been found. But MEPA insisted on making its point to send a message to Polidano Bros,” he said.

Figallo explained that the necessary applications for the event with the police were filed on 11 September and MEPA’s initial reply was that it found no objections. According to FM Promotions, MEPA later retracted on its position and objected to the permit.

The event will be now held as planned at Hal Far, with Friday’s programme moved to Saturday. Enthusiasts who bought tickets for Friday’s event will now be able to use that ticket either on Saturday or Sunday.

Figallo said the organisers “will definitely be taking action” after the event takes place.

“We were discriminated against to get at third parties. We will definitely take action,” he said, adding that the organisers had also incurred extra costs to transfer the event to Hal Far.

But what irritated the Maltese motorsports enthusiasts the most was that Malta’s reputation with the international group had now been tarnished.

The Motorsports Association and Island Car Club were amongst the local groups to warn of the harm done to Malta’s reputation. Some 20 foreign drivers and teams coming from 13 different countries are to take part in the event.

“It’s a pity to hear some of them saying that they don’t intend of ever returning to Malta because of what happened today,” Figallo said.

Two of the competition’s main sponsors were the Malta Council for Sports and the Malta Tourism Authority.

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