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INSIDER REPORT: Two dead, 15 injured in French rally tragedy

Killing a spectator is every rally or racing driver's worst nightmare.

Published May 23, 2012

Killing a spectator is every rally or racing driver’s worst nightmare. With the remote nature of the roads that are used in rallying, crowd control is far more difficult than it is at a closed circuit event, meaning that spectator injuries and deaths occur all too often.

The most recent came this weekend in France, at the Pays des Maures rally when a VW Golf rally car appeared to miss a turn and slammed into a crowd of spectators. iafrica has reported that a 50-year-old course worker and a 20-year-old spectator were killed, with as many as 15 more, including children having sustained injuries, some of them serious. The driver, reports the BBC, has been taken to hospital for treatment of minor injuries and is being held in police custody pending investigation.

Proving that messages can get crossed all too easily, a reader of Jalopnik is the brother of one of the first firemen to respond to the accident. Thomas Belhacene explains that the driver and co-driver were competitors with 20 years of experience at this event, who knew the roads well.

“This was not an error on the driver’s behalf, but a mechanical issue. Watch this video, you do not hear squeaking brakes. This is the sort of turn where you brake at the last second going about 80 MPH. When he realized his brakes weren’t working, he turned on his hazard lights and tried everything possible, including pulling the emergency brake.”

“Know the road by heart, he knew there was an escape road built into this difficult corner if he continued straight through the intersection. He continued straight only to realize too late that the organization and the police did not do their job of keeping people off the escape road. This is why the accident happened.”

The area where the car entered was cordoned off to prevent fans from standing in the dangerous run off area. The video below, from French press organization AFP shows the moments leading up to the crash.

This is what happens when a driver loses his mind
As we saw above, sometimes fans get in the way during organized motorsport despite the best intentions of organizers and competitors. When crazy drivers take their act to the street, the results are even less predictable. In some Arab countries, enthusiasts have taken part in an activity (I refuse to call this a sport) they call Hagwalah. This street drifting looks much more like out of control madness than actual drifting. In this recent YouTube video, the spectators are more than a little bit lucky to escape with their lives.

MINI Canada announces incentive program for Canadian racers

Following the lead taken by Honda and Mazda in Canada, MINI is offering a contingency program for Canadian racers. MINI is offering up cash rewards to those who campaign a MINI product in the Canadian Touring Car Championship and at Targa Newfoundland.

“MINI’s motorsport heritage is impressive and has been part of the brand’s DNA since the 60’s – with wins in big events such as the Rally Monte Carlo, Targa Newfoundland and most recently the Dakar Rally, as well as track racing in MINI CHALLENGE events in Europe and the CTCC. We want to recognize and foster the passion and success for MINI motorsport in Canada and continue building that legacy,” said Adam Shaver, Director of MINI Canada. “To show our support, we have launched a significant contingency program in Canada for 2012.”

In the CTCC Touring class, MINI drivers who finish in the top three can win a cash payout of $1,000. $750. and $500. respectively, while B-Spec class drivers can pick up $500. $300. and $150. The cost to compete at Targa can be considerably higher than road racing, so MINI has upped the ante there. MINI teams who take first place in Open Class, Modern Class and Grand Touring will take home $3,000. For full details, visit the MINI Canada info page.

Jay Leno is the first to drive 2013 Shelby GT500
Whether you are a fan of his humour or not, you have to admit that Jay Leno is one of the most hardcore gearheads alive. Being Jay Leno the comedian means that his “Big Dog Garage” is a destination for other gearheads, including some pretty heavy hitters, like car manufacturers. Leno recently became the first “civilian” to get behind the wheel of Ford’s newest monstrosity, the 2013 Shelby GT500, AKA, the fastest, most powerful Mustang of all time. The newest GT500 generates 621 horsepower and is said to be capable of top speeds exceeding 320 km/h! While Leno doesn’t get the ‘Stang up to that speed, he does manage to do a burnout for the camera!

Hollywood Lost, Monster style
By now, most car enthusiast are aware of Ken Block’s Gymkhana series of videos, even those who aren’t big motorsport fans. The combination of car control, noise, smoke and humour is the stuff that Hollywood directors dream of when they are creating an action flick. So much so, that the fourth edition of the series took place on a Hollywood movie set, complete with building facades and a gorilla. The Monster World Rally and DC Shoes team have decided to release a second edit of the short film that focuses more on Block’s driving and less on the Hollywood glitz. It really is exciting to watch Block put the beastly little Ford through its paces.

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