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  Friday, 15 November, 2002, 13:18 GMT
Crowd trouble puts rally at risk
Kenneth Eriksson's Hyundai passes close to fans on the 2001 Rally GB
Crowd are a constant problem in rallying
The Rally of Great Britain's place on next year's world championship could be in jeopardy after spectator problems forced the cancellation of a stage on Friday.

The rally has only a provisional place on the 2003 calendar pending a report by the sport's governing body, the FIA, into organisers' handling of spectators.

The FIA ordered the report into this year's event after 13 spectators were injured when they were hit by Carlos Sainz's Ford last year.

The problems this year arose on the fourth special stage, a second run through the Brechfa forest in south Wales.

Open in new window  :  GB Rally stage guide

It was called off because too many fans had turned out despite ticketing arrangements designed to avert that problem.

Clerk of the course Fred Gallagher insisted he "had no hesitation" in cancelling the stage - but called on spectators to take the initiative themselves to prevent a repeat on the final two days of the rally.

"Spectators are individuals and we rely on their co-operation in remaining in the designated viewing areas," he said.

"We hope that spectators attending the remainder of the rally will appreciate how important it is to follow the safety code and respect the advice of the marshals."

It is the first time in the event's 58-year history that a stage has been cancelled for safety reasons before it has started.

The route had been used as stage two without problems earlier on Friday morning.

The rally is led by Finland's Marcus Gronholm after the first five stages.

RALLY GB STAGE GUIDE
SEASON SO FAR
TOP TEAMS AND DRIVERS


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