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National Court: 30 August 2006
1. Dean Clements & Paul D. Wallace - Appeals
2. Jeremy Metcalfe - Appeal
3. Joao Vasconcelos - Assault
4. Martyn Gange - Assault

Dean Clements & Paul D. Wallace – Appeals
The Court excluded Barry Benham from the MG Trophy Championship race meeting held at Brands Hatch on 16 July after finding him guilty of two driving infringements. Benham, the championship leader, was also fined £500 and had six penalty points put on his competition licence.

On the opening lap of the first of two championship rounds held that day, Benham`s car was in contact with that of Dean Clements on the run to Druids Bend. As a result, Clements` car spun into the barriers, leading to his retirement.

On lap six of the same race, Benham`s car was in contact with that of his chief title rival Paul Wallace as they diced for first position exiting Graham Hill Bend. As a result, Benham`s car spun out of control and back across the track into Wallace`s car leading to both drivers retiring.

Both Clements and Wallace had brought appeals against Benham`s driving to the Court after the stewards of the meeting had taken no action at Brands Hatch.

Having listened to evidence from all three drivers, plus fellow competitor Malcolm Gammons, and viewed ‘in-car` video evidence, the Court ruled that both incidents had been avoidable.

In the incident with Clements, Benham was found guilty of driving in a manner not compatible with general safety. Clements` appeal fee was returned. The Court also accepted that the stewards had erred in not allowing Clements the opportunity to give evidence at their hearing into events.

In the incident with Wallace, Benham wad found guilty of careless driving. Wallace`s appeal fee was returned.

Jeremy Metcalfe – Appeal
The Court overturned a decision by the clerk of the course and subsequently the stewards of the meeting to exclude Jeremy Metcalfe from a Formula Renault UK Championship round at Donington Park on 30 July.

On the opening lap, Metcalfe`s car was in contact with that of fellow competitor Sam Bird at high speed as they rounded the Holywood section of the track. As a result, Bird`s car left the track and crashed heavily into the barriers. Bird suffered a knee injury and subsequent medical treatment had kept him away from any judicial proceedings immediately afterwards.

However, the Court accepted that Metcalfe had been dealt with inappropriately by the clerk of the course who, after talking with the championship manager, had asked Metcalfe into his office, shown him a video replay of the incident and told him he was to be excluded. This, said Metcalfe`s defence, was without him ever being told of any alleged offence.

Therefore, the Court said, there was insufficient evidence to conclude he had driven in a manner incompatible with general safety.

Metcalfe`s defence also argued that the severity of Bird`s accident may have influenced the thinking behind the decision to exclude him.

The Court ruled the incident was a ‘racing accident` and ordered all endorsements on Metcalfe`s competition licence resulting from his initial exclusion to be expunged. Metcalfe`s appeal fee was returned.

Joao Vasconcelos – Assault
On referral, the Court ordered Formula Renault UK Championship driver Joao Vasconcelos to serve a suspension of 30 days – suspended on condition of good behaviour during the next 12 months.

Vasconcelos had assaulted another driver, Stian Sorlie, at the side of the track after their cars had retired following a collision in a race at Croft on 16 July. As Sorlie extricated himself from his car, Vasconcelos approached and pushed him several times. This was not a ‘fight`, his defence said. It also claimed that Vasconcelos was not reacting to the collision, blame for which was later apportioned to Sorlie. Instead, he was provoked by Sorlie who had made a middle finger gesture.

Vasconcelos had already served a 30-day suspension from competition as punishment for his actions. He was also ordered by the Court to pay £750 in costs.

Martyn Gange – Assault
On referral, the Court ordered Rotax Max kart driver Martyn Gange to serve a suspension of 30 days – suspended on condition of his good behaviour during the next 12 months.

The Court heard that at the Forest Edge track in Hampshire on 16 July, Gange had pushed away the clerk of the course who was attempting to intervene in a post-race argument between Gange and another driver, with whom he had collided at the final bend.

Gange, still wearing his crash helmet, was unaware that it was the clerk he had assaulted. The clerk had approached him from behind, said Gange. When he realised his mistake, he regretted his actions. He had already served a 30-day suspension from competition.

The Court ruled that this assault was "especially serious" as this was committed against an official of the meeting. In addition to his suspended 30-day suspension, Gange was ordered to pay £250 in costs.

Release MSA06-044: 4 September 2006

No regulatory value: for information purposes only