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Wide-ranging changes in the organisation and promotion of special stage rallies, together with a raft of measures intended to enhance the recruitment, retention and training of marshals, have been proposed by the MSA Rally Safety Study Group.
The Group`s recommendations are in three broad areas: event organisation, spectators and marshals.
> Every special stage rally organiser should be obliged to appoint a Spectator Safety Officer (SSO), to be involved in planning the event and briefing marshals. The SSO should have the power to delay or cancel a special stage.
> Every event organiser should be obliged to put in place a system to ensure that no under-age marshal can sign on.
> The MSA should begin formal training of Stage Rally Clerks of the Course and Stage Rally Safety Officers, with a view to introducing mandatory licensing of these officials in 2003.
> The MSA should launch a programme to ‘educate` rally spectators, building to a full promotion leading to this year`s Network Q Rally of Great Britain.
> Even for relatively minor rallies, special stages should have clearly defined areas which are open to spectators. Areas which are closed to spectators should also be clearly defined.
> Proper provision should be made for spectators, including a spectator safety leaflet, clear signage, and well-marked pedestrian routes between viewing areas.
> For major events, such as rounds of promoted rally championships, chargeable spectator stages should include car parking, refreshment facilities, toilets, first aid provision and a public address system.
> Where large numbers of spectators are expected, the event marshals may be assisted by professional spectator stewards and/or Police officers to ensure proper crowd management.
> New diagrams have been created to show where spectators should and should not be permitted on three typical junctions (crossroads, T-junction and fork).
> A brand new guideline on “Finding, Briefing & Keeping Marshals” should be added to the MSA Motor Club Manual, which is distributed free of charge to every MSA-registered club.
> The MSA should supply each of its event organising clubs with a copy of the Motorsport Marshalling video which is under preparation by the Motorsport Safety Fund (MSF).
> Each club should also be provided with a supply of marshals` recruitment posters and a copy of the MSF marshals` briefing leaflet.
> The existing MSA Race Marshals` Register should be expanded to become a National Marshals` Register, embracing all motor sport disciplines. Any marshal nominated by an MSA motor club would go onto the Register as a Grade 3 official, with structured training offering promotion to Grades 2 and 1.
> Training for rally marshals should be organised on a regional basis, to include personal safety, first-aid, setting up controls and stages, spectator control and communications.
> Marshals should be offered benefits, ranging from free copies of the MSF`s The Marshal magazine, to factory visits and discounted goods.
> Every MSA motor club should nominate a Chief Marshal, who would be listed (along with the Club Secretary and Competition Secretary) in the MSA Fixtures and Motor Sports Clubs book from 2003 onwards.
MSA Chief Executive Colin Hilton said: “I would like first to thank all the members of the Rally Safety Study Group and all those who contributed information and advice to the Group. This latest report has involved an enormous amount of work, all of which was undertaken on a voluntary basis.
“The recommendations are comprehensive and will clearly affect special stage rallying at every level. Some proposals can be introduced immediately by MSA staff, but others will require regulation changes by the Motor Sports Council or co-operation from our motor clubs and regional associations.
“Our aim will be to roll out improvements as quickly as time and resources permit, so we ask competitors, officials, motor clubs and particularly the media to watch for a series of more concrete announcements during the next few months.”
The Motor Sports Association re-convened the Rally Safety Study Group in late 2001, following accidents which caused injuries during the Dee Jay Cambrian Rally and the Network Q Rally of Great Britain. The group is chaired by Tim Stock (Chairman of the Motorsport Safety Fund and Chairman of the BRSCC); other members are Stuart Turner (former head of European Motorsport at Ford), John Richardson (Chairman of the Motor Sports Council Rallies Committee), Tony Newsum (MSA Rallies Executive) and John Symes (MSA Safety Executive).
> The full report of the MSA Rally Safety Study Group is available for downloading from the MSA website (www.msauk.org) as a PDF document.
> IMS Ltd, organisers of the Network Q Rally of Great Britain, will issue a separate statement about the effects of the Rally Safety Study Group report at a future date.