A British drag racer, whose beloved car nicknamed “the Smurf” was stolen after a race in Malta and who refused to leave the island until it was found, has been reunited with his precious vehicle.
Devastated Sean Prout had offered EUR 5,000 (GBP 4,300) to get his blue Honda Civic Type R back which he had spent more than EUR 100,000 (GBP 86,000) on modifying for racing.
The car – stolen in the early hours of 21st November – had been stuck by the side of the track at the Hal Far industrial estate following a race prang. In the past, Hal Far housed the RAF Hal Far airfield.
Sean told local media: “That car is like a child to me.”
When he felt the police were not taking the matter seriously enough, he announced that he was offering a reward and that he was not going to leave the island until the vehicle was found.
He then staged a one-man campaign that ensured the distinctive vehicle’s images were shared on social media and in local newspapers like the Malta Times.
The distinctive-looking vehicle was then spotted parked by the side of the road in the village of Iklin by a sharp-eyed local.
Lee Micallef, who found it and raised the alarm, admits he is not a car enthusiast, but recognised the distinctive vehicle from photos in the local newspaper.
He called police who then alerted Sean who also rushed over to check if the sighting was true.
The Malta Drag Racing Association thanked locals for getting involved in helping to find the vehicle and said: “It is in one piece with very minor damage done.”
That apparently amounted to a broken side window and a steering lock that had been sawn off.
The drag racer had travelled to Malta from Great Britain to take part in the four-day Malta Drag Racing Association finals.
But his participation ended after he span out and hit a wall, damaging the vehicle on 18th November.
Sean claimed that the last time he saw the car was when he went to watch the final race on Sunday evening, 20th November.
However, to his great horror, the car had already been stolen when he returned to pick it up at around 7.30am the next day.
He claimed surveillance cameras showed the car being towed away by an unknown offender and added: “I spend hours daily working on that car.”
In an interview with The Times of Malta Sean added that the coverage had made the car “too hot to handle” as it was easily recognisable, making it difficult to sell.