HOBART, Australia (AP) — A 59-year-old driver was killed in a crash at the Targa Tasmania rally on Wednesday, a year after three competitors died in the annual race.
The man from Brisbane and his wife were in a 1989 Porsche 944 S2 when it crashed over an embankment on a closed section of the event in the north of Tasmania state. Officials said the two were regular competitors in the rally.
Tasmania police said the man died at the scene and the woman was taken to a hospital for observation but was not seriously injured. Investigations were continuing. Police did not release the man's name.
Officials later downgraded the six-day rally, which is staged on sealed roads, to a non-competitive event.
“While cars will continue to drive on closed roads, drivers will now be limited to the sign-posted speed limits for the remainder of the event,” Targa Australia chief executive Mark Perry said in a statement.
Three competitors died within 24 hours in last year’s race. Organizers have adopted the bulk of the Motorsport Australia investigative tribunal’s 23 recommendations to make the tarmac rallies safer, including reduced speeds and altering some stages on the course.
More than 500 cars are competing in the rally from Launceston to Hobart, which is scheduled to finish Sunday.
Perry said the “thoughts of the entire Targa community are with our fellow competitor’s family and his loved ones at this extremely difficult time."
“We lose a close member of the Targa family, a long-term, regular competitor of ours,” Perry added. “It’s hard to put words to it for us right now, after last year and all the work we’ve done."
Emergency services worked late into the night to remove the man’s body from the wreckage.
“I’m told the road was wet but it wasn’t raining at the time,” Tasmania Police Inspector Darren Hopkins said, adding that the cause of the crash was still unknown. "It could even be a medical condition.”
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