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Arcadia Road Rallysprint Statement

MotorSport New Zealand is saddened to confirm two competitors have died after an incident at the Arcadia Road Rallysprint in Paparoa on Sunday 25 February.

The two competitors, a driver and their co-driver, were involved in a single-car incident that saw their vehicle leave the road. Police and emergency services were called to the scene at approximately 2:00pm, however, tragically, the competitors had died before their arrival.

“Our thoughts are with the family and friends of these two competitors and all involved with the Arcadia Road Rallysprint,” said MotorSport New Zealand President, Wayne Christie.

“The whole motorsport community will be understandably shocked and upset by this terrible tragedy. We will be offering support to all those involved in the coming days.”

As with any incident of this nature, MotorSport New Zealand will cooperate with all investigating agencies as well as undertake its own full and thorough investigation.

There are no further details to report at this time.

UPDATE – 1205, 26 FEBRUARY 2024:

MotorSport New Zealand will now undertake a full and thorough investigation into the incident at the Arcadia Road Rallysprint. This will involve working with the event organisers, and their volunteer officials. This includes a full review of the timeline of events before and after the incident as well as the effectiveness of the procedures and regulations in place. MotorSport New Zealand will also work with all investigating agencies such as NZ Police and WorkSafe.

Modern motorsport safety standards are incredibly high and are subject to millions of dollars of investment annually around the world. MotorSport New Zealand’s event, vehicle, and competitor safety regulations have been continuously improved over our 75+ year history and are heavily derived from the overarching regulations set by motorsport’s global governing body, the Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile (FIA).

All rallysprint events are required to have a bespoke safety plan as a condition of their event permit. This safety plan is reviewed and approved prior to a permit being issued. MotorSport New Zealand is committed to ensuring the best safety standards are always enforced and in place at all events.

The event took place on Arcadia Road in Paparoa which was closed to the public for the duration of the event under the authority of the local Road Controlling Authority. It is too early in the investigation to comment on what the main contributing factors to the crash were, however, it does not seem as though the road was in a detrimental or unsafe condition.

Whilst the identities of the driver and co-driver have not yet been released, the NZ Police have released their ages. The driver was 15 and the co-driver was 35. MotorSport New Zealand offers Junior Competition Licences for competitors aged 12 to 15. There are heightened requirements that these junior drivers must meet in order to gain their competition licence as well as restrictions placed on the types of events and vehicles they are permitted to compete in.

Junior drivers are commonplace in motorsport in both New Zealand and globally with drivers such as Hayden Paddon, Liam Lawson, Scott Dixon, and many others all competing prior to their 16th birthdays and before they held a civil driver’s licence.

Our thoughts and condolences again go out to the families and loved ones of the two competitors who so tragically passed away. We have begun extending formal support offers to those immediately involved in the incident and will continue to support the wider motorsport community during this tough time.

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