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Australian fans face booze limit

6 October 09 10:35 GMT

Australian police are gearing up for an annual crackdown on motor-racing fans - limiting race-goers to 24 cans of beer a day.

Spectators at the Bathurst 1000 - a three-day race meeting staged this week - will be told to stick to just the one "slab" of beer while at the racetrack.

Wine-drinkers must also show restraint, facing a four litres per day limit.

Police hope the limits will prevent the famous New South Wales race being blighted by alcohol-related violence.

Known as "The Great Race", the Bathurst 1000 is a 1,000km (621 mile) event, the highlight of the three-day meeting held annually in the town of the same name.

Boasting a long, proud history, the race - seen as the most prestigious motor event in Australia - is currently contested by teams of drivers racing powerful touring cars equipped with V8 engines.

The "one-slab" limit was first imposed in 2007, with police insisting drunken hooligans were tarnishing the reputation of the race and causing disruption in town.

Those choosing to drink lower-strength beer will be allowed to bring in 36 cans, police said.

Pilgrimage

The limits - and a tougher police presence around the racetrack - were greeted with dismay by some race-goers when they were first introduced.

Many fans making the annual pilgrimage continue to feel they should be able to drink as much as they like while watching the race.

But police insist the limits are necessary. Alcohol has been blamed for violence elsewhere in Australia, with drink seen as a factor in sparking race-related riots in Sydney in 2005.

"This is one of the greatest motorsport events in Australia and for some it is a pilgrimage that they make every year," Assistant Commissioner Alan Clarke said.

"Police respect people's rights to enjoy the race weekend, but will promptly act when the law is broken.

"Every year thousands of race fans attend and enjoy the event and police will not allow their safety to be compromised by a drunken few.

"As such we will once again be focusing on alcohol-related behaviour," he said.

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