Can the end of the Lord Ad­vo­cate’s in­quiry spur on a closed road re­turn? says...

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -

Noth­ing pre­pared the ral­ly­ing world for the events of 2013 and 2014, the Snow­man and the Jim Clark Ral­lies.

Death is never ac­cept­able in any sport. And, for those who crit­i­cise the items on the Mo­tor­sport Event Safety Re­view and how they im­pact our sport, please bear in mind that peo­ple lost their lives.

Yes, the MESR is strin­gent and there are items which are dif­fi­cult to get used to as a rally fan. Maybe in the fu­ture th­ese can be worked on. But ral­ly­ing has en­joyed free rein on safety for a long time, and even­tu­ally this change was go­ing to come. If it saves lives, we should be work­ing with the au­thor­i­ties in­volved to do so.

Now that state­ment has been is­sued, let’s hope we can get some trac­tion be­hind a move­ment for closed road ral­lies. It’s been one of the key rea­sons for the demise of the MSA Asphalt Cham­pi­onship and it’s some­thing the sport needs in the UK. Who knows, maybe a closed road leg­is­la­tion bill is closer than you think.

We’ve reached the point in the off-sea­son where drivers and teams are de­cid­ing where to go in 2017. Which cham­pi­onship suits them best in terms of com­pe­ti­tion, de­vel­op­ment, and of­ten, fun.

A chat with a rally com­peti­tor last week spawned the de­bate, do we have too many events and cham­pi­onships in UK ral­ly­ing?

One thing the UK has done very well is pro­vide a home for some of the more eclec­tic cre­ations – of which the UK is blessed with many. If you have a Vaux­hall-en­gined Ford Es­cort Mk2 or a Milling­ton­pow­ered Pro­ton Sa­tria, there’s a home for them.

The de­bate was ini­ti­ated by the demise – or at least hia­tus – of the MSA Asphalt Rally Cham­pi­onship for 2017, mainly due to a lack of a co-or­di­na­tor. A spec­tac­u­lar lack of knowl­edge from some in the ral­ly­ing com­mu­nity has re­sulted in some an­i­mos­ity at the fact Jane Evans has stepped down from the role. But her pri­vate rea­sons are valid and should be re­spected.

The trou­ble for the Asphalt cham­pi­onship is the lack of closed-road events, which makes va­ri­ety hard to come by for its ral­lies. I don’t be­lieve it’s down to costs; the series has boasted some of ral­ly­ing’s finest ma­chin­ery for many years and that wasn’t due to change this year.

There seems to be grow­ing trac­tion for less events and less cham­pi­onships, and I have to say, as long as there isn’t a cull of hun­dreds of ral­lies and series, I’m for the idea.

Surely it’s a win-win? For gravel events, space events us­ing the same roads out so that the roads are bet­ter qual­ity and eas­ier to re­pair and main­tain. Run­ning five world-class events – which isn’t beyond our clubs in the UK – in­stead of 10 aver­age ones is surely some­thing com­peti­tors would buy into. Per­haps the en­try fees rise, but clubs are un­der less stress be­cause they are or­gan­is­ing one event ev­ery three months rather than three events ev­ery month. Plus the op­por­tu­nity arises for clubs to join forces and share events, de­creas­ing the work­load on the al­ready strained vol­un­teers in ral­ly­ing.

There’s no doubt that an abun­dance of cham­pi­onships gives peo­ple a home. But there’s so many cham­pi­onships that keep­ing up as a spec­ta­tor is dif­fi­cult. Stream­lin­ing the num­ber of events and cham­pi­onships could help to make the sport eas­ier to fol­low for the masses we are con­stantly com­plain­ing we don’t have, but not do­ing any­thing rad­i­cal to change.

Per­haps there’s as­pects over­looked in this col­umn, and MN is keen to hear your thoughts on the sub­ject. But for gravel, the roads would im­prove and – hope­fully – lower re­pair costs for com­peti­tors and also pro­vide a higher qual­ity event. On asphalt, with­out closed roads, va­ri­ety is re­stricted. But run­ning fewer events re­duces the sat­u­ra­tion of stages used. There’s only so many times you can do Epynt for­wards and back­wards be­fore it be­comes fa­mil­iar.

Send Mo­tor­sport News your views via email at mn.let­ters@hay­mar­ket.com.

POS DRIVER /CO-DRIVER

Rhys Yates/tom Wood­burn Bruce Ed­wards/jim Smith Alan Kirkaldy/cameron Fair Paul King/ali­cia Miles Paul Swift/ Pa­trick Walsh Ian Wood­house/ Paul Row­land Dave West/ Rob­bie Han­nah Andy Vey/ Richard Fletcher Steve Quigley/ Peter Lit­tle­field Will Owen/ Rob Hopewell

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