“UK can learn from tragic Monte death”
What a way to start the World Rally Championship. Sitting down to watch what was undoubtedly the most exciting period in mine – and most rally fans’ – life time turned into a nightmare. The cold and darkness of Monte was a fitting metaphor for the mood.
I’ll leave my colleague David Evans to discuss his thoughts on the incident, being on the scene in Gap and, as always, providing excellent insight and proper journalism.
From the accident, there’s lessons to be learned here on home soil.
Rallying has been at war for the past couple of years. A tug of war, if you like, between rally media, fans and spectators, over the resulting restrictions brought in by the Motor Sports Association, following recommendations from the Scottish Government.
If you aren’t aware of the changes that were made – in response to deaths on the Jim Clark and Snowman rallies in 2013 and 2014 – you can view them online. But the main ones include no movement from media or spectators in a live stage. No freedom of movement. Spectator pens are set up for viewing, and that’s that.
Those changes – predictably – were met with uproar by the ‘old guard’ in rallying. ‘We used to be able to walk up and down and go to where we wanted. We know what’s safe’. Etc etc.
But the reality is that the sport in the UK can’t afford another death. It would almost certainly end the sport as we know it at a national level.
I appreciate how fun and the thrill it must have been to touch Walter Rohrl’s Audi at a junction in Mid Antrim, but the reality is, that’s not acceptable. Do you want less movement on a stage and a sport, or for the sport to perish outright? When you put it like that, it’s an easy decision. Yes, clubs can do a better job of picking spectator spots, and marshals need more help and training to police stages properly. But for me, I’d rather have a sport to watch, even if the viewing is a bit restricted. And especially as I’m not paying £80 to get in like I would be at the Emirates Stadium to watch Arsenal.
I haven’t got enough fingers and toes to count how many times the Motorsport Event Safety Review changes have made my life more difficult this year. Almost impossible at times. But, I’d rather difficult, than not at all. Please have a bit of perspective. Because if the events of last Thursday were in the UK, I’d be out of a job and you would be without a sport.
Spectator safety is key for rallying to continue in UK