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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 November, 2003, 16:11 GMT
Speed traps threaten rally's future
Colin McRae in a Citroen on the Rally GB
Scot Colin McRae escaped a ban but was fined

The future of the Wales Rally GB - which generates 15m for the nation's economy every year - could be in doubt because of South Wales Police's campaign against speeding.

The news comes a day after 17 rally drivers, including Britain's former world champions Colin McRae and Richard Burns, were punished in Neath Magistrates court for speeding during the 2002 event.

Four of them - German Armin Schwarz, Belgian Freddy Loix, Swede Daniel Carlsson and Briton Kris Meeke - were banned from driving

Now FIA, the sport's world governing body, is looking into whether the roads in south Wales can cope with the amount of rally traffic.

A FIA spokesman said: "Road safety is a matter of the utmost importance to the FIA.

"The actions of the police and magistrates seem to indicate this is an exceptionally dangerous location for a rally.

"The FIA has therefore asked its safety delegate for a report on the suitability of the local public roads for a world championship event."

The magistrates court heard on Tuesday that most of the drivers were caught by one trap set up between rally headquarters and a testing area known as the "shakedown section".

Paul Trotman, defending, explained how this six-mile long section was used to calibrate the cars.

The degree of danger from these men is likely to be far less than with other drivers
Paul Trotman, defending

"The shakedown section has two miles along a public road and then four miles inside a forest not subject to speed limits.

"But the two miles between there and the base camp is open to the public."

Mr Trotman said: "People are prosecuted for speeding because of the risk to other road-users, but the degree of danger from these men is likely to be far less than with other drivers."

He said the cars were very sophisticated with and the drivers "are used to doing far in excess of these speeds".

"The danger to the general public is extremely minimal," he added.

The roadside cameras picked up a total of 2,312 speeding offences, with a number of fans driving between different stages of the rally among the offenders.




WATCH AND LISTEN
The BBC's Gareth Jones
"Police speed cameras recorded more than 2,000 offences"



SEE ALSO:
Rally stars given driving bans
10 Nov 03  |  Wales
Rally fan drove at 135mph
18 Aug 03  |  Wales
Rally coup to bring 50m boost
17 Nov 02  |  Wales


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