Tragic news spread across the Maltese islands and much of the motoring community yesterday. During the yearly Paqpaqli Ghall-Istrina charity event, one of Paul Bailey’s supercars, a Porsche 918 Spyder careened into spectators after losing traction during a demonstration. 28 of them have been hospitalised, the youngest being a six-year-old girl.
Incidents like this have happened since motorsports began, that does not make it any easier to discuss, when it happens. After a decade of Paqpaqli, what will this mean for the charitable event and motorsports in general in Malta?
When planning a motoring event as large as Paqpaq, precautions need to be taken. Generally, motoring events place spectators well away from possible danger by either elevating them or moving them further away from the track. Through elevation, the spectators are not only safer but more likely to get a better view of the demonstration.
Formula E, a relatively new race series, builds tracks in different cities across the world over two days keeping all spectators elevated and out of harms way with two sets of barriers between them and the race cars. You could argue that as this was a charitable event, people want to be around the cars and get close to the action.
Reading through guidelines set out by the Health and Safety Executive for Motorsports here in the UK, there are clear suggestions how a track should be set up to ensure the safety of the driver and the spectators. Crash barriers, straw bales, tyre walls and mesh fencing are there to protect both parties in the case of an incident. From the footage, readily available, which will not be shown here due to its graphic nature, shows that none of these were in use on Sunday.
Many people on the internet are laying blame on Paul Bailey for driving. However, he is a man who uses his cars for charitable causes instead of locking them away for nobody to see. Previous reports mention Bailey, 55, was excited to bring his collection to Malta to be used for a charitable event.
Hopefully, this incident will increase the interest for a race track with full safety protocol in place to be built on the Maltese Islands. A purpose-built area for drivers and spectators alike to be safe and enjoy their passion. Cars.
You can read the full motorsport guidelines here.