Wherever you go in the world of motorsport, you will come across the warning triangle time and again. As the triangle says, motorsport can be dangerous. It is therefore vital that you accept responsibility for your personal safety and take all reasonable steps to minimise the risks to yourself and others.
Personal Protective Equipment (PPE)
Picture a rally driver and you will most likely visualise a helmet and overalls, both of which are requisite items for rallying. However, not just any helmet or overalls will do; they must bear the correct ‘standard’ label, indicating that their design has been tested and approved for use in motorsport. They must also be in good condition; for example a cracked helmet will not be acceptable, whether or not it bears the correct standard label.
Frontal Head Restraints (FHRs), often referred to as HANS devices, are mandatory across stage rallying. FHRs are designed to restrain the driver’s torso during frontal and angled-frontal impacts, thereby reducing the loads to the head and neck.
General regulations in the Motorsport UK Yearbook – plus any event or championship supplementary regulations (SRs) – detail the ‘standards’ required for these various items of PPE. The general advice is always to buy the best safety equipment you can afford and take care of it – why would you scrimp on something that is designed to protect you and possibly save your life?
Just as your PPE has to meet certain standards, so does your car. Again, the Motorsport UK Yearbook and the supplementary regulations of the championship or event will detail all minimum requirements for competing vehicles, covering areas such as – but not limited to –roll over protection systems, seats, harnesses and fire extinguishers.
Attempting to cut corners with PPE and cars is not only ill-advised from a safety point of view, but it is also likely to land you in varying degrees of hot water with event officials. All events have scrutineers on hand to check that competitors’ PPE and cars comply with all the relevant regulations before they hit the stages, and some events also run post-event eligibility scrutineering.
If a scrutineer finds a safety-related problem with your PPE or car, such as a helmet with the wrong standard label or a fire extinguisher that is not connected properly, he or she may allow you to rectify it and present the item again for further scrutineering, as you will not be allowed on the stages until it has passed.
If an eligibility issue is uncovered, such as an engine with greater capacity than the regulations allow for, the scrutineer will submit a report to the Clerk of the Course, who will then decide what action to take. In more serious cases, this could be exclusion from the event.
Please remember that scrutineering is not something to ‘get through’ – the process involves a brief inspection of your car and PPE to ensure compliance with the regulations. It does not certify that everything is ‘safe’; it is the responsibility of every competitor to take all necessary precautions to keep themselves and their fellow competitors as safe as possible.