A BRITISH expat was killed and his wife seriously injured when their classic sports car crashed into a ditch during a rally in Italy.

David Twaites, 82, was at the wheel of the racing green Austin Healey convertible when he reportedly lost control and ran off the road.

His Swiss-born wife Henriette, 80, was airlifted to hospital in a critical condition.

Londoner David – who was well known in the world of classic car restoration – and his wife were taking part in a rally called the Via Flaminia.

They were heading with fellow British, Dutch and Belgian enthusiasts through northern Italy to Genoa where they were due to catch the ferry to Corsica.

But David's 1955 right-hand-drive Austin Healey 100 crashed at 4pm on Thursday between Albonese and Mortara, southwest of Milan.

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It ran into a ditch on a straight stretch of road, reports La Provincia Pavese.

Firefighters and other emergency crews found the couple unconscious when they arrived soon after.

Henriette was flown by helicopter to San Matteo hospital in Pavia, but David could not be saved.

The couple lived in Switzerland, officials said.

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David was originally from South London and was a violinist in the Philharmonic Orchestra of Hong Kong, according to an online profile.

Later he set up a workshop for restoring pre-War classic cars in Montreux, Switzerland.

The Foreign Office said: "We are assisting the family of a British man who has died in Italy and are in contact with the local police."

The Via Flaminia rally sees 30 classic car lovers cruise through the winding roads of northern Italy and the Mediterranean island Corsica, enjoying local food and wine at each stop.

It was established in 2005 and describes itself as the "rally with a smile".

Organisers say: "The Via Flaminia is a relaxed rally where the competition serves the atmosphere. Winning is not a goal in itself."

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