Targa’s future uncertain after Motorsport Australia suspends licenses pending inquest into deaths

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The future of Targa rallies across the country hangs in the balance following an explosive decision by Motorsport Australia to suspend permits pending an investigation into the latest fatality in Tasmania.

The organization – which sanctions and insures the high-speed event – ​​made the decision on Saturday following a series of fatal crashes, with three participants dying in two days at the 2021 event and the driver of 59 year old Tony Seymour lost his life last month. .

Motorsport Australia chief executive Eugene Arocca said the board had made a difficult decision but had little choice.

“While many competitors recognize that motorsport is dangerous, we cannot accept that death is the result of competition as has been suggested to us,” he said.

“There are far-reaching consequences from such incidents, whether for the first responders who attend, the volunteer officials who are part of the event or who witness these incidents, as well as the enormous impact on the family. and friends.

“There are also assurances and legal ramifications that impact the wider sport when incidents like this occur.

“There are ripple effects that follow incidents like these, widely impacting all aspects of motorsport, including licensing costs and permit fees for all disciplines.”

Tony Seymour died after his car crashed into an embankment.(Facebook: Tony Seymour)

Traveling type non-competitive events can still take place provided the organizers carry out a targeted risk assessment and ensure that drivers observe all rules of the road, including speed limits, roads are closed or not.

But the competitive elements of Targa Great Barrier Reef, to be held in Cairns in September, and Targa High Country, to be held near Mount Buller in November, remain unclear.

The Motorsport Australia board met on Saturday and decided to suspend licenses and set up a Targa Review to investigate the latest fatality and make recommendations for the future.

The panel will be chaired by Garry Connelly AM and assisted by Motorsport Australia’s Risk and Safety Committee, which was established last year.

The 2022 Targa Tasmania cars lined up, a day after the death of Tony Seymour.
Targa Tasmania cars lined up, a day after fellow countryman Tony Seymour died.(Facebook: Targa)

“As the supreme governing body for four-wheel motorsport in this country, Motorsport Australia must do everything in its power to prevent these tragic incidents, and that will often mean having to make tough decisions about safety and sustainability. of our sport,” said Mr. Arocca. mentioned.

“At this time, we are unable to establish the cause of this recent incident, and it may take some time.

“As a result, the Board has determined that a review committee will be appointed to investigate the cause of the incident and conduct a broader review of this form of competition.”

Mr Arocca said he wanted to ‘again extend our condolences to the Seymour family during this tragic time and will remain available to support them and the wider motorsport community’.

Targa Tasmania managing director Mark Perry has been contacted for comment.

“The show must go on”, with or without Motorsport Australia

Launceston racer Ben Newman has competed in several Targa events across Australia and says competitors want the event to continue.

“There is danger in most sports, be it mountain biking, skateboarding,” he said.

“It’s very hard, very sad for everyone involved, but the overwhelming response from the band is that the show should go on.

“We are well invested in it, mentally and financially, and the sport brings in hundreds, thousands and millions of dollars a year.

Newman said members of Motorsport Australia were “frustrated” at the lack of information about the future, but believe Targa could continue even if that organization walks away.

“Targa has been associated with other organisms for short periods in the past,” he said.

“And, to be honest, Targa has its own rules, its own management. In many ways they don’t need Motorsport Australia. They can just go to another insurer.”

Newman said there were enough “passionate, smart people involved” at Targa to make sure this continued.

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