Ferrari driver killed in high-speed crash

The fatal crash at Taupo Motorsport Park was the first at the track. Photo / Daily Post
The fatal crash at Taupo Motorsport Park was the first at the track. Photo / Daily Post
The driver of a Ferrari taking part at a track day at Taupo Motorsport Park yesterday was driving at around 190km/h before fatally crashing.

Andy Bass was taking part in the Hawke's Bay Club's annual track day when he crashed his Ferrari 360 Spider into a wall of tyres around 1pm.

He was rushed to Taupo Hospital in a critical condition but died as a result of his injuries, police said.

An 18-year-old male passenger, described as a friend of Mr Bass, survived the crash with minor injures.

Taupo Motorsport Park track manager Ian Bowater said the tragedy happened during the Hawkes Bay Club's annual track day.

"The car was reasonably badly damaged, it came off the track at speed and hit a wall of tyres. It would have been doing 190km/h when it left the circuit.

"Our condolences go out to the family."

Hawke's Bay Club president Alan Cooper said Mr Bass had joined the club only recently. He said he didn't know him well, but his home had been re-piled by Mr Bass around 30 years ago. "He's an old acquaintance and he'll be sadly missed."

The track days were an annual event and around 20 of the club's members had attended this year, he said.

"I know they're very strict on safety and they try to do their best. It's a tragedy for us."

A fellow club member who was a trained doctor was one of the first on the scene, Mr Cooper said.

Mr Bass had also put a fresh pair of tyres on his Ferrari just minutes before crashing, he said. "They'd just stopped for lunch and had a bit of a rest and let the marshalls have a rest. He put some brand-new tyres on. How that impacts, I don't know."

Napier Mayor Bill Dalton said he had had lunch with Mr Bass 15 minutes before the crash, and he seemed like a hell of a nice guy.

"It was an incredibly sad ending to the day."

While it was the first fatal crash at the track and there had been serious incidents in the past, rigorous safety protocols were in place, Mr Bowater said.

"When a private club wants private hire of the race track, they inspect the circuit before they go onto it.

"They sign an agreement to say that 'yes, we're happy with the track' and FIA Grade 2 licence and a MotorSport NZ Grade 1 licence - it's one of the highest graded tracks in New Zealand.

"Each driver, after they go through a rigorous drivers' briefing by the organisers of the club, sign an indemnity - taking all blame away from the circuit and the car club. It's a standard form that all race tracks in New Zealand have."

Hawke's Bay Club members participating in the track day were required to wear helmets and fireproof apparel. Their vehicles must also be registered, warranted, mechanically safe and comply with Motorsport NZ regulations, the club's website states.

MotorSport NZ general manager Brian Budd said as the track was being hired privately at the time of the crash, it wasn't subject to the organisation's rules. "We've got no jurisdiction over it."

The Ferrari 360 Spider is a 400hp vehicle with a top speed of more than 290km/h. It accelerates from 0-100km/h in 4.9 seconds.

The Serious Crash Investigation Unit was investigating the crash on behalf of the coroner, police said.

- Brendan Manning of APNZ, additional reporting Harrison Christian of Hawke's Bay Today

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