TODT: EDUCATION NEEDED FOR RALLY FANS
FIA president calls for intervention after spectator death
FIA president Jean Todt has called for a greater effort in the educating of rally fans following last week’s fatality on the Monte Carlo Rally.
Hayden Paddon’s Hyundai i20 Coupe WRC slid off the road near the end of the opening stage.
The car collided with a spectator who was standing on the outside of the icy corner. A 50-year-old Spanish male was airlifted from the scene to hospital in Nice where he later died from his injuries.
Todt told MN: “It’s very sad. It should have been avoidable. In life you must have discipline and if you don’t have discipline you must have respect. Motorsport is dangerous if everybody is not working in the same direction. I am very sorry for the family of the victim and I am sorry for the family of rally. I hope this makes people more aware about safety if they are coming to see this great show. People must be educated and follow instructions. The consequences can be horrible and people need to learn.”
FIA rally director Jarmo Mahonen dismissed immediate concerns about the speed of the 2017 World Rally Cars. He told MN: “I say to you what I have said to everybody who works with the FIA: ‘Calm down, we have to look at the investigation first and then we look what can be done’.
“This is the launch of the new generation car and, of course, they are a little bit faster. We are going to get the people who are not inside the sport who will start to complain about the speed. This is nothing to do with the new regulations. It would have happened the same with the Group N car.
“We have prepared with Monte Carlo [organisers]. I have to thank them, the amount of work they have done has never been done so well. I cannot say any more until the investigation is complete.”
Hyundai withdrew Paddon’s car from the event out of respect. The Kiwi said he and co-driver John Kennard would involve themselves in the investigation into the crash – the results of which he didn’t want to see prejudged.
“Firstly our thoughts are with the family and friends of the spectator involved,” he said. “No matter the circumstances, this is never something we want to see. I do want to take this chance to ask people not to speculate. Irrespective of how and why the accident happened, finger pointing will not change anything.
“The most important thing is that we learn from this and I am committed to work with the FIA and rally organisers relentlessly to ensure this does not happen again.”
Paddon urged fans to think about where they choose to stand when spectating. He added: “I will take this chance to ask spectators at rallies to please be considerate where you stand and to respect the instructions of the marshals. We all want to enjoy a good show and go home to the family afterwards. I also ask each and every rally fan at the events, if you see someone in a dangerous position to request they move for everyone’s best interest. As a community, we can collectively work together to prevent this from happening again.” The Automobile Club de Monaco declined to comment on the investigation or on eye-witness accounts, which questioned some of the decision-making of officials at the scene of the crash.
One eye-witness, who wished to remain unnamed, said: “We were standing inside the Armco barrier on the inside of the corner. It was 20 or 25 minutes before an ambulance came and five minutes after that the helicopter arrived. The place where the spectator was standing was not signed as a no-go area. Just before this corner, there were more people standing in what looked to be a dangerous area. I was in absolutely the safe place, but some of the [course] cars came before the first competitors and they told us to move from where we were standing and go on the outside.”
Hyundai was out of control on ice
Paddon crashed his i20