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Ferrari leaves black mark on ancient Chinese relic

By Alexis Lai, CNN
updated 1:24 PM EDT, Thu May 10, 2012
  • Ferrari leaves tread marks on city walls dating to Ming Dynasty in Nanjing
  • Ferrari said the drive was taken unauthorized by staff from its local distributor
  • District tourism bureau has reprimanded officials in charge of the city walls

(CNN) -- A historic site in China's former capital that dates back more than 600 years to the Ming Dynasty was damaged Sunday after a Ferrari raced across it before a publicity event for the Italian carmaker, the official Xinhua news agency said.

The Ferrari 458 Italia sped around the ramparts of the ancient city walls in Nanjing, leaving thick black tread marks that cleaners were unable to remove, an exhibition of driving that aired on state television before being circulated on the Internet.

In a statement issued Tuesday, Ferrari China said the drive was taken unauthorized by staff from its Nanjing distributor Nanjing Kuaiyi Automobile Trading Co. Ltd, which was planning to hold a new car exhibition in the area.

City authorities said the car was intended to be part of a ceremony on Monday to mark the 20th anniversary of the luxury car automaker's entry into China's luxury car market.

Ferrari expressed "deep regret" for what it described as an "accident," calling it "unacceptable" and saying it would take steps to prevent similar incidents from happening again. It stated it has "always held great respect toward Chinese traditional culture and regards the protection of historical relics as of great importance."

Fallout in China over Ferrari damage

Qinhuai district tourism bureau said its officials had been reprimanded, while the Nanjing Municipal Administration of Cultural Heritage said the use of the site was not approved by archeological authorities, Xinhua said.

The incident also dismayed some Chinese netizens, who expressed their misgivings about the partnership between Ferrari and the city authorities.

Weibo user Dayushenying called the incident "shameful," off rumors that Ferrari had paid 80,000 yuan to use the city walls, without regard for cultural relics.

Weibo user bobisaman commented wryly: "Ferrari put out the cash, Nanjing put out the city walls. In the end, Nanjing won because Ferrari helped advertise it globally."

CNN's Tian Shao contributed to this report.

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