As part of its ongoing safety drive following the Scottish Motorsport Event Safety Review, the MSA has confirmed that it will no longer give dispensation for multi-venue stage rallies to run multiple/split fields.
MSA Regulation R.24.1.4. states that competitors must be seeded numerically in order of their anticipated performance. However the same regulation gives the MSA authority to exercise discretion; it is this discretion that the MSA is no longer exercising. Any dispensation previously given is withdrawn.
Following the tragic accidents on the 2013 Snowman Rally and 2014 Jim Clark Rally, the sport has been independently audited by the Scottish Government, leading to a number of recommendations. Key stakeholders such as forestry and other landowners expect to see these implemented if they are to continue granting access for stage rallies. The MSA is therefore taking decisive action to address these recommendations and other areas of concern.
The issue of rallies running multiple fields has been on the sport's agenda for some time, having been highlighted in the Stringwell Report, a review of stage rallying published in 2011. The concern is that under a multi-field format, event organisers and the Safety Delegate/MSA Observer have to judge whether a stage is safe to start before the majority of spectators have arrived, in anticipation of the ‘faster’ second field. It is important that this judgement is made when spectator numbers are at their greatest. Attempting to circumvent this problem by using multiple Safety Delegates/MSA Observers is not a viable option, on grounds of consistency and cost.
Therefore the MSA considers that in the interests of safety, multi-venue stage rallies must all revert to the traditional method of running a single field, seeded in order of anticipated performance.
Rob Jones, MSA Chief Executive, said: “This is an important decision and one that the MSA has not taken lightly. This issue has been under discussion for some time and MSA Observer reports from two rallies this year have made it a priority. To me these reports clarify beyond doubt that running split fields can hinder spectator management and thereby unnecessarily compromise general safety, which is why I have taken the decision, in consultation with my colleagues, that the traditional approach of a single seeded field must return across the board. We will of course monitor the effect of this decision so as to ensure that the perceived safety benefits are actually achieved.”
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