Friday, 25 September 2015

Rally - Uncertainty



The MSA is due to publish its ‘final’ Rally Safety Guide before the end of the year following publication of its interim Guide back in February: https://www.msauk.org/assets/2015rallyreqs.pdf .

There is one proviso. It won’t quite be final. Consider it work in progress. However the Guide will form the basis of future multi-venue and single venue rally organisation and will be rolled out across the UK next year. It will also be reviewed and modified as needs arise on an ongoing basis.

If the English/Welsh/Northern Irish organisers think they have had a rough ride so far it’s only going to get worse. In fact, there are still people up here who think this ‘problem’ will all blow over, never mind the sceptics down south sharing that opinion, but once you get politicians involved, the issue of ‘public safety’ isn’t going to go away.

Although it was the ‘Scottish Government’ which introduced the review (working with the MSA) it is being adopted and implemented by the MSA which is the sport’s ‘British governing body’, so whether they like it or not rally organisers across all four home countries will be impacted and affected.

In all fairness, improved safety for spectators and for competitors has to be addressed, but at what cost? Many individuals have looked at the requirements of the new rules and have simply walked away from the workload and responsibility.

It is likely that there will be fewer rallies next year, which (hopefully) means more crews entering those which are left. That might be so, but again, at what cost? If competitors think more entries mean reduced entry fees, think again. If the forestry commission hires out fewer roads and less mileage, and therefore loses out on income, it’s going to want more than an annual inflationary increase.

Similarly, if clubs lose out on organising team members and fail to attract sufficient marshals, they are going to have to pay for professional help. How about security guards barring the way to forests because there are too few volunteers? Don’t laugh, it has already happened this year in Scotland - on amateur events!

Next year the task of rally organisers will be greater, time spent longer, workload increased and they will be subject to a greater degree of responsibility and scrutiny, and for what reward? Hoping they get enough entries? Even with fewer events there is no guarantee of bigger entry lists for the above reasons and cost implications. And I haven’t even started on vehicle safety equipment and personal safety requirements.

Fortunately there are some folk on the case determined not to give up, but time is running short for next season.

More news on this latest initiative soon.

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