Stringent rules keep rally crews safe

We all know that motorsport is dangerous, even though we flippantly sign the entry forms and agree that we do so “at our own risk”.

Long before that, we’ve all invested heavily in the best winged competition seats, expensive helmets, HANS devices and six point harnesses.

Then there’s the multi-point roll cages that extend through to the strut towers, over our heads and beside our bodies, leaving us cocooned in a metal shell that hurtles down gravel roads at unbelievable speeds.

But even after all that, it’s not until fellow competitors have “a big one” that we really sit back and appreciate why we’ve spent the money – other than because the rules stipulate that we have to.

The Rally of Whangarei crashes of Jack Hawkeswood and Sarah Brennan, and of Matt Adams and Lisa Hudson, were the perfect examples of why the rule makers enforce such stringent safety rules.

Thankfully, all four competitors were able to emerge relatively unscathed, but it could so easily have been a vastly different, and tragic, story.

Both crashes were violent in the extreme. Onboard footage of Hawkeswood’s eight barrel rolls down the road is frightening to watch. It’s as heart-wrenching as it was expensive.

While the cars may have run their last stage, the crews in question will be back, and that’s all that matters.

Rather than bemoan the rules and regulations that we’re forced to adhere to, it’s imperative that we accept them for the good of the sport and, more importantly, ourselves.

Aussie title back for Round Two

Across the Tasman, Toyota driver Harry Bates will be out to extend his unbeaten run of victories at this weekend’s Rally Queensland.

Bates is unbeaten since the start of 2019, and entering the second event in his all-new Toyota Yaris AP4, one would expect that his speed will have increased even further.

The return of the Queensland event also sees the series return of Molly Taylor in a Subaru WRX. Taylor missed the opening round in Queensland because she was quarantined after winning the opening round of the Extreme E series in Saudi Arabia.

The high-quality field will contest brand new stages in the Gympie based rally, meaning that accurate writing of pacenotes will be more important than ever.

The rally will also see the Australian Rally Championship debut of 16-year Max McRae, the third generation of the McRae rallying dynasty.

The grandson of Jimmy, son of Alister, and nephew of the late Colin, Max McRae will drive a newly arrived Ford Fiesta R2 as he begins his rallying journey.

Max recently made his four-wheel drive debut in a round of the West Australian championship, leading convincingly until fuel pressure problems in a borrowed Subaru.

Rally Queensland will be held over 12 special stages covering 160 kilometres of competitive distance.

Peter has been the editor of RallySport Magazine since its inception in 1989, in both printed and online form. He is a long-time competitor, event organiser and official, as well as working in the media.

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