Cyclist dies after being hit by Hong Kong entrant in China Rally
Bruce Macdonald in Huairou
A CYCLIST died and a second man was injured when they were struck by a car before the start of the international 555 China Rally yesterday.
The dead man, in his mid-40s, was struck by Hong Kong driver Chan Chi-wah, who was driving a Mitsubishi Lancer on a paved road section towards the first timed stage of the three-day event.
Chan, 40, and his co-driver and wife, Tang Po-lin, were not immediately aware that the crash had resulted in the cyclist's death and were not told the tragic news until two stages into the event.
A distressed Chan said he was travelling at about 70/kmh along a straight road 5km from rally headquarters when the crash happened.
Race officials said last night that in accordance with China's National Traffic Law police were conducting an inquiry, with the full co-operation of organisers.
Chan is an experienced rally driver, having run 9th overall in the 1994 Hong Kong-Beijing Rally. He came 5th overall in the last Hong Kong-Beijing Rally in 1996 and was also Asian Cup winner in that event.
The 555 China Rally is short-listed to become an official round of the World Rally Championship next year.
Senior observers from FIA, motorsport's world governing body, were on hand at Huairou lake resort, about 60km north of Beijing, to assess overall organisation.
The FIA, which will consider its observers' reports in two week's time, is expected to make an announcement on China's inclusion on the international rallying calendar in October.