Fatal accident overshadows class win for Autocar man Harris
18 September 2005

Autocar’s Chris Harris took class victory on his first attempt at the Wales Rally GB, but the event was overshadowed by a fatal crash which cut short Sunday’s third and final leg. Michael Park, co-driver for Markko Martin, was killed in an accident on the 17-mile Margam stage on Sunday morning when the duo’s Peugeot 307 hit a tree at high speed. Martin was unhurt, but the rally’s remaining two stages were cancelled.Park, 39, was a popular and experienced navigator who first teamed up with Martin in 2000 and partnered him during successful spells at Subaru and Ford prior to their signing for Peugeot this season.Subaru’s Petter Solberg won the event after rally leader Sebastien Loeb (Citroen) deliberately incurred a two-minute penalty before the finish in Cardiff. The withdrawal of Martin’s Peugeot team-mate Marcus Gronholm would have meant that the Frenchman retained his title with victory, but he refused to do so in the circumstances. The penalty left him third behind Solberg and the second Citroen of Francois Duval.The tragedy overshadowed Harris’s amazing run to class victory in the Autocar Ford Fiesta ST.In only his third ever rally and on the M-Sport prepared Fiesta’s British debut, Harris took the honours in the up-to-2000cc category for Group N cars, although the curtailed final leg meant that he did not complete a competitive mile all day.‘You can only feel mixed emotions,’ said Harris. ‘I’ve absolutely loved the event, but it’s really been overshadowed by the accident. This is a risky sport and what happened today really brings that home.’Harris and co-driver Richard Tuthill were classified in 56th position, around 45 minutes behind the pace-setting world rally cars.

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