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Track defends efforts to keep stray dogs away

5/14/2008

Istanbul Park authorities
defended their safety measures on Wednesday after a stray dog
was run over on the track during a Turkish Grand Prix support
race at the weekend.

However, they could not guarantee that the problem would
not happen again.

Brazilian Bruno Senna, nephew of the late three-time world
champion Ayrton Senna, hit and killed one of two dogs on the track
during a GP2 support race before Sunday's Formula One grand
prix at Istanbul Park.

The 24-year-old was fortunate to escape injury and the
incident prompted an enquiry by the governing International
Automobile Federation (FIA), which raised the risk of possible
sanctions.

"This was a serious lapse in circuit security and safety,"
an FIA spokesman said. "How could such a thing happen at an
almost brand-new Formula One track?"

Istanbul Park Organizasyon A.S., the circuit entity
controlled by Formula One chief executive Bernie Ecclestone since local
organizers were fined $5 million in 2006 for a podium
controversy, said they had done everything they could.

"We take very seriously the matter of track safety, we took
all possible measures to manage the problem and we cooperated
with the FIA race director throughout the grand prix," organizers
said.

"We regret the incident involving Bruno Senna's car and we
are far from complacent about it but, with the best will in the
world, it isn't possible to eradicate the problem altogether."

The authorities said the problem had nothing to do with the
newness of the circuit and everything to do with location, with
street dogs endemic in Istanbul and surrounding areas.

"Unfortunately they are more noticeably prevalent at the
circuit during the grand prix week, attracted we think by the
various catering units that competitors bring with them," they
said.

"As in past years, the circuit operator took as many
precautions as possible to police the [2.5 million square meter] circuit and
its 8 [kilometer] perimeter with a team of vets on site to catch any dogs
and to relocate them.

"But this is of itself a dangerous task because some of
these dogs are feared to carry rabies and appropriate
precautions need to be taken."

The animals had also become more adept at avoiding the
humane traps set out for them than in previous years.