Sunday, September 18, 2005

Michael "Beef" Park 1966-2005 R.I.P.

Michael Park died today on the Wales WRC event.

Markko Martin's Peugeot 307 was running well, after he'd convinced the team engineers to use the settings he suggested. He was in fourth place when, on Special Stage 15, the car spun around and crashed passenger-side into a tree. Michael Park, the co-driver, was killed instantly.

The rally has been stopped. Markus Gronholm has forfeited his third place as the Peugeot team declared that they would cease the rally. Sebastian Loeb, who would have received his second World Championship title in case of a victory, intentionally missed the deadline for returning to base camp and was given a two-minute penalty under the rules. That put him in third place, behind Francois Duval. Petter Solberg was awarded the win, although he said it was a formality and asked his fans to not celebrate.

This is the first WRC death since 1986, when Finland's Harri Koivonen and his codriver Sergio Cresta died on the Corsica stage.

Michael Park has been riding shotgun since 1994, making pace notes for Colin McRae and Richard Burns while competing in the British championship alongside Mark Higgins. He teamed up with Markko Martin for the 2000 season in a privateer Corolla, which was impressive enough for them to be signed by Subaru next year, and then Ford after that. Martin and Park have won five WRC rallies overall.

Michael Park was married and had two children.

It's a sad day for rally fans everywhere.

Colin McRae led tributes to co-driver Michael Park, who was killed in a crash on stage 15 of Wales Rally GB. (BBC Sport)

Pics (linked from the messageboard at - I've saved them in case they disappear or the bandwidth runs out or whatever)

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