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Brock hailed as safety-conscious pioneer

08/09/2006 05:29:42 PM Comments (0)

Peter Brock, who has died in a rally accident in WA, has been hailed as a safety-conscious pioneer of Australian motor racing.

The country is in shock for the second time this week, after 'Crocodile Hunter' Steve Irwin was killed by a stingray barb off Cairns on Monday.

Fellow driver Jim Richards has paid tribute to his former team-mate Brock, who was 61 and did arguably more than anyone to put the spot on the map in Australia.

"He was an icon of Australian motorsport," Mr Richards told Sky News.

"And there will probably never be another person like Brocky, with the following he had from the average person to the multinationals."

Australian Grand Prix Corporation chairman Ron Walker said Brock was extremely safety-conscious.

"That's why I think you'll find that there must have been a mechanical failure," he told Sky News.

"Because he would never have got in a car without knowing the limitations of the car and if something's gone wrong we will find out in due course.

"But he was a very careful person, he was safety conscious, he preached safety to everybody else and he didn't take a lot of risks."

Victorian Premier Steve Bracks hailed Brock as a great Victorian who had set motor sports records that would take decades to break.

"But there was more to Peter Brock than just racing," Mr Bracks said in a statement.

"In the 1970s and 1980s - in an era when Victoria's road toll peaked at more than 1,000 deaths a year - Peter Brock campaigned passionately for road safety."

Brock's 1970s duels with Canadian-born Allan Moffatt were the stuff of Ford-Holden legend and he won the Bathurst touring car event a record nine times, earning him the title of King of the Mountain.

A former member of the Holden Young Lions team, V8 driver Jason Bargwanna, paid tribute to Brock.

"He was the most popular, the most achieved, the best driver this country's had," he told ABC radio.

"And I was fortunate enough to be in the same garage as Peter at Bathurst in 1997 and he was an inspiration in my career. It's very sad news.

"He really is what put Bathurst on the map as an event. It was very popular, but Peter Brock really put the cream on the top of that one. And to win it the way he did, I mean, he's the king of the mountain and he always will be remembered that way."

Perth motoring writer Alex Forrest said Brock displayed his car to fans in central Perth at the start of the Targa West tarmac rally.

"He was a phenomenally accommodating guy in terms of the media and his fans. He had all the time in the world for them," Mr Forrest said.

"He was a great ambassador for the sport.

"He seemed like a very gentle man although that wasn't the way he competed."

Targa West is only in its second year but was one of the highest profile rallies in the state, Mr Forrest said.

Former Holden Racing Team member Paul Weissel said he found it hard to believe Brock would not be emerging from this accident like he did from so many others.

"When I was with the Holden racing team, Brock had his fair share of shunts like everybody else did," Mr Weissel told ABC Radio.

"But he'd always get out smiling, with the hair in place and a quick quip for the media, and it's hard to be believe that's not going to happen."

Brock served as an athlete liaison officer for the Australian team at both the Sydney and Athens Olympics.

"I'm shocked and saddened," said Olympic boss John Coates, president of the Australian Olympic Committee.

"Peter provided support and motivation for athletes and in particular he mentored young athletes who were competing at their first Olympics.

"Peter pitched in and helped out wherever he could and was extremely popular with the athletes.

"He joined in all the village activities and was very much a team man. I remember well Peter up singing with Laurie Lawrence and John Williamson at the team barbecues in the village at Homebush. He loved it."

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