The Polis were at the door yesterday. It’s now two weeks since that fateful weekend and the Police are diligently tracking down and interviewing all members of the rally organising team and competitors plus other witnesses. And there is no end in sight.
The CID DS who visited was just one of a much larger team and he was unaware of who else had been interviewed. He was also rather unsure about how rallies operate, which tended to stretch the interview process as basic rally rules and procedures had to be explained. He was with me for a mere hour and 20 mins, but the record so far is an eight and a half hour interview with one of the senior team members.
Throughout all this process, those involved are still not permitted to say owt or make any comment which is rather unfortunate in one respect, as the organisers cannot challenge any of the wilder and more outrageous claims being made by certain sections of the media. That seems unfair since the wider public gets to hear about one side of the story – but not the other. The unfortunate side effect of this is that the wider public then make a judgement based on what they’ve heard and read, but without the full facts on which to base their own conclusions. By the time those full facts do become known attitudes and opinions will have become entrenched since there has been no rebuttal from those directly involved.
I too have to be careful in what I say and what I print, but there is a great desire for knowledge out there in the wider sport. Not just to find out exactly what happened, but to help in the planning and organising of upcoming events. In other words, while the great and the good investigate, deliberate and cogitate, the nation’s rally organisers will have to come up with their own ideas and solutions.
However, it was interesting to note that at the Summer Stages Rally last weekend, the organisers had come up with a simple plan to control spectators. They had arranged two well signed and well taped/marked spectator viewing enclosure and no-one was allowed on the infield. It worked well and folk responded and reacted sensibly.
Amongst all this talk of spectator and crowd control, one simple fact has been overlooked. It is already a matter of record (as reported in ‘Motorsport News’) that two of the fatalities were Media representatives, and as yet there has been no mention of how ‘the Media’ should be controlled at events. Although they are not allowed to place themselves in danger or in such a position as to impede or distract competitors, they do have a certain amount of additional ‘leeway’ with regard to where they can go.
Stricter control of photographers and journalists will therefore have to be considered and those attending on such business should not be allowed to have family members or friends accompany them - and especially not be invited to join them on the other side of tape!
This is a subject that the FIA will have to address too, as you only have to watch some of the WRC footage to see what some of the more lunatic members of the press corps get up to in the pursuit of the perfect picture.
And besides, whether they like it or not, the press set an example to casual spectators. Some of them seem to think that a media tabard/bib is magical and made of kevlar, or perhaps some form of good luck talisman which will ward off all imminent danger and keep them safe from their own stupidity.
It isn’t and it doesn’t.