Speeding fines put GB event in doubt

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The Independent Online

The future of the Wales Rally GB could be thrown into doubt because of a crackdown by police on speeding.

Seventeen drivers, including Colin McRae and Richard Burns, were punished in Neath magistrates court on Monday for speeding offences relating to the 2002 event.

A spokesman for the FIA, the sport's world governing body, said: "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."

South Wales Police again used mobile speed cameras during last weekend's event to catch speeding competitors and fans. Magistrates handed out fines totalling £7,350 yesterday and deducted a total of 57 penalty points. McRae and Burns were each fined £150 and received three points on their licences.

The timed special stages are held on private roads or Forestry Commission land, but competitors have to use public roads between stages. If Wales lost the rally it would be a blow to the local economy, which benefits by around £15m a year.

There is concern at what seems a heavy-handed police approach. Marcus Gronholm, of Finland, was stopped near Swansea last weekend and prevented from continuing to the service park because of a damaged front wheel on his Peugeot.

"An escort service might have been a better solution," he said.