IAN MILLS

MN’S ROAD RAL­LY­ING EX­PERT “Po­lice want road ral­ly­ing to clean it­self up”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

It seems that ac­cord­ing to cur­rent rally gos­sip you can’t drive on a road rally in North Wales without putting ei­ther your driv­ing or com­pe­ti­tion li­cence in dan­ger. It’s true that events in that area have had more at­ten­tion from po­lice how­ever it would be wrong to think that there is some con­certed ef­fort by the con­stab­u­lary to bring an end to the sport.

Far from it in fact. The po­lice ap­pre­ci­ate that road ral­ly­ing is very pop­u­lar and has a great deal of sup­port within the com­mu­nity that they serve. But they are un­der pres­sure them­selves to en­sure that laws are up­held.

There has been a ban on the use of the hand­brake to ex­e­cute turns on A and B class roads in North Wales since the days that Jack Ro­main was Road Li­ai­son Of­fi­cer, and he’s been dead 10 years. Re­cently the po­si­tion has been more for­malised with hand­brake turns and drift­ing be­ing out­lawed at all times. In 2013 the De­part­ment of Trans­port drew up a list of care­less driv­ing of­fences for which the po­lice could is­sue £100 on the spot fines. Both hand­brak­ing and drift­ing were in­cluded in the list. It seems that, how­ever much we would wish it to be, road ral­ly­ing can­not be some sort of le­galised joy rid­ing.

On the Rali Meirion in Septem­ber the po­lice, hav­ing ob­served ral­lies for the pre­vi­ous few months, is­sued no­tice that hand­brake turns and drift­ing would not be tol­er­ated. This warn­ing was high­lighted in the rally’s reg­u­la­tions, the fi­nal in­struc­tions and at the pre-event com­peti­tors brief­ing. De­spite th­ese warn­ings 15 driv­ers were recorded by the po­lice hand­brak­ing at junc­tions on the A470.

Th­ese mis­cre­ants could have been is­sued with tick­ets, how­ever the po­lice wanted the sport it­self to take re­spon­si­bil­ity for clean­ing up its act and re­ported the com­peti­tors to the or­gan­is­ers and sug­gested that the four most bla­tant of­fend­ers should be ex­cluded, while the re­main­der should be given a fail. Th­ese penal­ties could be ac­cepted or pros­e­cu­tion would fol­low.

Peo­ple should re­mem­ber how some po­lice forces have acted in the past. Nu­mer­ous ral­lies in the 1980s, in all ar­eas of the coun­try, found the route be­ing pa­trolled by large num­bers of pa­trol cars ha­rass­ing com­pet­ing cars. Many events were pre­ma­turely halted by the po­lice. Today North Wales Po­lice are look­ing for a con­struc­tive ap­proach.

On the Rali Meirion the po­lice were frus­trated that warn­ings had not been heeded. On the fol­low­ing week’s Rali Mon they felt that the mes­sage had been re­ceived. There are three more road ral­lies in the area in 2016. Com­peti­tor be­hav­iour will be un­der the spotlight on th­ese events, but, pro­vid­ing the rules are ad­hered to, there shouldn’t be any fear of po­lice in­ter­fer­ence.

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