Colnbrook, Thursday 19 February 2015
An open letter from the MSA Chief Executive regarding spectator safety on UK stage rallies
This weekend marks the second anniversary of the tragic death of a spectator on the Snowman Rally, and of course on the Jim Clark Rally in 2014 three more spectators lost their lives in equally tragic circumstances.
As a result the Scottish Government, following an emergency debate in the Scottish Parliament, commissioned a major review of safety on stage rallies. This Scottish Government Motorsport Event Safety Review published its final report in January, and the MSA has since gone on record confirming its commitment to the implementation of the report’s recommendations, not only in Scotland but throughout the UK.
Clearly, there is going to be a period of transition while everyone concerned works as hard as possible to introduce the recommended changes. In the interim, I need to remind all spectators of the fact that they are ultimately responsible for their own personal safety.
I say this because despite these well-publicised tragedies, and despite the sport being well aware of the changes being brought about by the Scottish Review, I am astonished and dismayed that an irresponsible minority – and I stress minority – of spectators continue to display a wanton disregard for their own personal well-being.
This was brought home to me when viewing YouTube clips of last weekend’s Wyedean Forest Rally, and also from the truly shocking photograph from the same rally in yesterday’s Motorsport News (18 February, page 34) of a ‘spectator’ lying flat on the ground on the edge of the forest track, apparently taking a photograph extremely close to a competing vehicle.
This behaviour not only shows a complete disregard for personal safety but in addition places other spectators, officials and competing crews in danger. It also undermines the considerable efforts of the dedicated rally organisers, officials and marshals, who do all they can to ensure that events run as safely as possible.
The MSA is currently working on a daily basis with all other stakeholders in rallying, particularly the Forestry Commission, and I can confirm from discussions within the last few days that unless these few idiotic spectators concerned change their attitude immediately and behave responsibly, there will be no future for stage rallying in the UK. I am not talking about next year, or the year after; I am talking about right now. Even in the meantime, this sort of behaviour will mean that stages are cancelled and rallies disrupted or even stopped.
Please, for the sake of rallying in the UK, can all spectators take full responsibility not only for ensuring their own personal safety but also the future of the sport we all love.
Yours in motor sport,
The Brecon Motor Club Annual General meeting takes place on Wednesday March 4th at the Castle Hotel in Brecon starting at 8pm prompt.
Remember, if you're a member it is your chance to influence how the club is run. Club secretary Mark Weller has sent out proposal forms for committee positions so it's now up to you!
Brecon Motor Club members were busy on the Red Kite Stages at the weekend with a number of successes for competitors while a large number helped by marshalling in the freezing conditions.
Jason Pritchard steered his newly built Ford Escort to a fantastic overall victory with a fastest time on the final Caeo stage sealing it. After working away all week in South Africa for Phil Mills it was a particularly good performance and ensured maximum points in his quest to lift the BHRC title with Phil Clarke.
Malcolm Rich made a comeback after a 24 year lay off and found he had lost none of his skill as he and Jon Hawkins steered their Cat 1 Ford Anglia to class B3 honours. Again it was a pleasing result as the car was purchased and only tested briefly before heading into the ice strewn Red Kite stages.
Second in the B3 class and setting up a battle for the championship year were Bob Gibbons and son Dale who bagged a useful haul of points. The Cortina was back for the first time since the Flatters and barely missed a beat.
Sara Williams was going well in her Subaru Impreza but unfortunately retired on the final stage with an excursion reported.
Dai 'Block' Jones and Glyn Price were the models of consistency and reliability as always and finished third in their class in the familiar banana yellow BMW. Glyn was seen at the Crychan North stage finish undoing Dai's modifications with brute force after a moment of over exuberance in the snow!
The club fielded a good number of marshals at the finish of the Crychan North stage who were as usual well catered for by chief marshal Nigel Chappelle. A small team also assisted in the spectator area led by Mark Weller.
Brecon Motor Club was last weekend the recipient of a prestigious WAMC award presented to club chairman David Thomas at the annual awards dinner. It was awarded for the organisation of the best Welsh Championship Historic Rally in 2014 for the SGC Printing Harry Flatters Rally. In the photograph David Thomas is presented with the award by championship sponsor Brian Dennis with championship co-ordinator Rob Baldwin looking on.
Photo: Kevin Baldwin
Congratulations to Peter & Zoe Chappelle on the birth of their daughter Sarah Jane weighing in at 8lbs 7oz.
Another addition to the famous Chappelle clan and perhaps another driver or navigator!