FIA pres­i­dent calls for in­ter­ven­tion af­ter spec­ta­tor death

Motor Sport News - - Rally News - By David Evans

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.”

Pho­tos: mck­lein-im­age­, Skoda Mo­tor­sport

Hyundai was out of con­trol on ice

Paddon crashed his i20

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