Lille (France) (AFP) – A British driver hurtling through northern France in a Ferrari was caught going 265 kph (165 mph) during a clandestine race at the weekend as part of a car rally across Europe, local authorities said Monday.
The 51-year-old driver was one of six given tickets for going at least 150 kph on the A26, known as the “British Motorway”, which links the port city of Calais with the eastern cathedral town of Reims.
Another man, 57, was nabbed doing 205 kph in his McLaren, well above the 130 kph limit.
They were participating in the Modball rally, an annual event whose motto is “Drive all day… Party all night!”
Organisers did not respond to requests for comment, but the Modball website says this year’s rally began Sunday in London en route to Paris, the first leg.
The website says drivers are not supposed to race but that doesn’t stop dozens from competing to be the first to arrive at the daily destinations during the weeklong event.
During the 2016 edition of the rally, three drivers were caught going 230 kph on the same highway.
“It’s an official rally, but what isn’t really official is the speed — they say everyone is free to drive the way they want,” one driver in a French two-man team said in an interview with AFP.
“I respect the 130 kph limit in France, so at most I’ll do 150 kph,” he said.
This year’s Modball involves 180 modified speedsters heading from London to Paris, Lyon, Monaco, Venice and Vienna, where the rally is set to wrap up on Friday.
The race fee of nearly 3,000 pounds ($4,000) per person — or 4,000 pounds for the luxury package — also gives participants access to lavish parties, though the Modball website stipulates they are not “required to drink alcohol”.
“I’ve paid 15,000 euros to participate,” said the French driver, who asked to remain anonymous, citing food and gas expenses.
He said he had rounded up sponsors to help offset the costs, putting their logos on his car, a colourful Mini.
“I even got a porn site, because I wanted to laugh a bit. You might as well have something crazy,” he said.
Organisers insist they do not encourage speeding.
“We focus on the events each night and keep driving time down to ensure safe journeys between cities,” they write on their Facebook page.
Four of the drivers stopped Sunday were temporarily prohibited from driving in France, and were only allowed to continue after their teammates took their place.
The Ferrari and McLaren drivers were fined 750 euros each and will have to appear in court at a later date in nearby Saint-Omer, prosecutors told AFP.
The other drivers stopped were issued standard speeding tickets.