TRACK SECURITY UNDER REVIEW

Security breach along Esplanade Drive of the Marina Bay circuit on Lap 37 of the Singapore Grand Prix. Photo @F1 Twitter

SECURITY AT the Marina Bay night race is already the tightest in the Formula 1 calendar. It may get even tighter from next year onwards after a man entered the racing track along Esplanade Drive during the Singapore Airlines Singapore Grand Prix on Sunday.

Following the incident Singapore GP said yesterday they have put together an internal multi-departmental task force to review the security plan at all track access points along the Marina Bay Street Circuit.

The task force will also look into fortifying the infrastructure and manpower at the 5.065km street track.

British national Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia, who was arrested for entering and crossing the track during Lap 37 of the race, was charged in the District Court on Tuesday under Section 336(a) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224. According to the charge sheet, Yogvitam’s rash act “endangered personal safety of the drivers”.

The next hearing before the court is on Oct 6 and fresh charges may be brought against him.

CCTV footage released hours after the race apparently showed Yogvitam entering the track after Turn 13 along Espanade Drive through a “safety Egress Point (EP)”. The 27-year-old then crossed the track and walked against the flow of on-coming F1 cars before climbing back over the barrier. He was arrested by the Police immediately and taken into custody.

British national Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia faces up to six month in jail or $2,500 fine or both. Photo Paul Khoo/RWIND

If found guilty, British national Yogvitam Pravin Dhokia (in blue) faces up to six months in jail or $2,500 fine or both. Photo Paul Khoo/RWIND

With F1 cars running at 300kmh, Yogvitam could have got himself killed. His actions could also have killed one or more F1 drivers if they were forced to avoid hitting him and crashed into the concrete barriers at top speed. Fans watching the race could have been seriously hurt or killed as well, if flying debris resulting from a crash hit them.

Singapore GP said motorsport world governing body FIA’s regulations require EPs to be left open and unlocked to provide access onto and off the track.

“This allows a driver to quickly escape the track following a crash or mechanical failure, or for a marshal to access the track to retrieve debris or vehicles,” the organisers said in a statement.

They added that in accordance with FIA regulation Singapore GP provided approximately 174 trackside access points—including EPs—which are required to deliver the night race, “all protected with a layer of secondary barrier for crowd control”.

About half of the EPs, said Singapore GP, are located within Marshal Zones around the 23-turn circuit and are manned by race officials. The rest “would have security personnel patrolling the areas and/or crowd control fences as an additional barrier”. This, they added, has been the practice over the previous seven years of the night race, and is also required of other circuits.

In addition to the marshals in this vicinity, “roving security officers were also deployed at this section of the track”.

This is not the first time someone has breached security and got onto a track during a Formula 1 race.

Earlier this year, a man ran across the pit straight during the practice session of the Chinese Grand Prix, waving his ticket before trying to jump into the Ferrari garage. In 2000 a disgruntled Mercedes Benz employee invaded the Hockenheim track during the German Grand Prix.

Three years later at Silverstone, defrocked priest Neil Horan ran along the Hangar Straight. While there are no reports on how the intruders in China and Germany were dealt with, Horan was charged and jailed for two months.

If found guilty, Yogvitam faces up to half a year in jail or fine, or both.

According to Section 336(a) of the Penal Code, Chapter 224, “Whoever does any act so rashly or negligently as to endanger human life or the personal safety of others, shall be punished — in the case of a rash act, with imprisonment for a term which may extend to 6 months, or with fine which may extend to $2,500, or with both.”