speed freaks | 

Spanish cops probe if Irish passenger in 180km/h car chase may have been imitating video game

Police are investigating if a group of wealthy youngsters who belong to a betting ring are organising high speed races similar to those in video games

Neil Fetherstonhaugh and Natalia Penza

An Irish teenager who was the passenger in a car that led Spanish police in a dangerous 180km/h chase through the streets of Seville may have been imitating a video street racing game, it has emerged.

Local police had earlier released footage of the aftermath of the high-speed race that ended in a dramatic crash on Sunday.

The 19-year-old Irish teen and the 21-year-old British driver were held after they smashed into a roadside barrier in the rented 600 horsepower Audi RS6.

Police video showed the wreck of the car being lifted by crane from the centre medium of a motor way where it had come to a halt after a death-defying six-mile chase along streets that were packed with fans preparing for the Europa League final.

Now, it has been revealed that Spanish cops are investigating if both young men are part of a group of wealthy youngsters who belong to a betting ring that organises high speed races similar to those depicted in video games.

The British man, who was the only one of the two who was brought to court, was released from custody on bail by an investigating judge while a criminal investigation continues.

Police sources say the driver narrowly avoided hitting several pedestrians as he sped through the Cristina Gardens, a small park close to the city’s landmark Alfonso XIII hotel.

He then drove the wrong way up the Paseo Colon, mounted a pavement and drove on the wrong side of the road after a local police car tried to stop him.

The chase only came to an end after the driver lost control of the vehicle near an industrial estate after hitting traffic lights.

The resulting carnage was so bad, firefighters had to be called out to remove the smashed-up Audi from the metal barrier where it had become embedded.

The driver was taken away in handcuffs while the teenage passenger in the car, who was released without charge after being initially arrested, told cops he had met the driver by playing online video games with him.

It also emerged that they had rented the high-powered Audi in the Costa del Sol resort of Marbella, where an Audi RS6 reportedly smashed into a police patrol car at nearly 100mph a week before Sunday afternoon’s Seville escapade.

Police sources are said to be believe that both incidents could be linked.

Local paper Diario de Sevilla said initial findings of the ongoing investigation point to the British youngster forming part of a group of youths that try to emulate in real life scenes from a well-known car racing video game.

“They are wealthy lads who place bets on these illegal competitions, that consist of trying to escape the police and carrying out dangerous manoeuvres, like driving through pedestrian areas or going the wrong way at high speed up main roads,” they reported.

Court officials confirmed the detainee had appeared before a duty judge in a closed court hearing on Monday afternoon.

Sources said he had been released on bail pending an ongoing criminal probe. He has not yet been charged with any offence as is normal in Spain where formal charges are only laid shortly before trial.

The €101,000 600 horsepower Audi RS6 can do 0-60 in just 3.7 seconds. It has a top speed of 190mph.

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