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Despite the rain, they still came 11 Mar 2003

Juan Pablo Montoya (COL) Williams BMW FW25 leads the cars behind the safety car
Formula One World Championship, Rd1, Australian Grand Prix, Race Day, Albert Park, Melbourne, Australia, 9 March 2003

Ron Walker, chairman of the Grand Prix Corporation that organised the Australian Grand Prix at Melbourne's Albert Park, said he is very satisfied with a raceday crowd of 116,700. This was 10,000 down on the 2002, which he put down to the unfavourable weather conditions on Sunday morning which may have put some of the less hardy fans off.

"When it rained so much in the morning we lost a lot of general admission families that normally come on a sunny day to have a picnic," he said. "You've got to account for the economic climate and the threat of war, too."

The weather conditions led to a spate of accidents in the supporting races, the most notable of which befell model Grace McClure, the 'Face of Foster's'. She crashed heavily in the BMW Mini celebrity race and was taken to local Alfred Hospital suffering lower back injuries.

During the four-day event a total of 348,700 people visited Albert Park, about 23,000 down on 2002.Security for the event was high after a bomb scare on Thursday. But the annual environmental protests were minimal.