For the Fans: FIA Explains Its New Rally Safety Guidelines

Matt Posky
by Matt Posky
for the fans fia explains its new rally safety guidelines

The FIA wants to safeguard the future of rallying by imposing new standards that target mischievous fans. While it hardly seems fair to burden fans with safety under normal circumstances, certain rally stages in the WRC have a habit of attracting risk-taking behavior, where fans intentionally get as close to the course as possible as vehicles fly by. Truth be told, amateur rallying isn’t much better.

Even as safety continues to improve, danger is a major component of motorsport and, conversely, one of the primary reasons rallying remains so popular. There is a level of heightened unpredictability that many, including this author, find intoxicating. But the FIA still doesn’t want to see fans getting creamed by drivers, so it’s understandable to see it making an effort to further improve safety protocols — one of which involves using on-board cameras to identify thrill seekers putting themselves in harm’s way.

“Safety is the key for the sustainability of rallying in the future and one of the keys in safety is education — we see this around the world. These guidelines will help educate all to have the best procedures and the best habits in rallying,” FIA rally director, Yves Matton, told Autosport in a recent interview.

“The target we have to fix is zero [deaths and injuries], but we know how difficult that is. It is this question of education and knowledge to let the people understand how dangerous it can be if you are not doing the right things and this takes time — education always takes time.”

The FIA head’s of circuit and rally safety, Stuart Robertson, explained that new safety measures will first be enforced via WRC as a way to “demonstrate best practice and educate people in these vital messages of how to organize events as safely as possible for spectators.” From there, the new safety solutions will trickle down to more localized series and events.

“We have initiated a project that will help us detect the locations of spectators through image recognition, anonymously, using onboard cameras and various other tools,” said Robertson. “We’re employing new, high-level technology to identify where these people are located. We know they’re waiting until the safety crews have passed through before moving into [dangerous] positions.”

By identifying problem areas, the FIA thinks organizers can be swiftly alerted and dispatched to “take action.” However, what that entails is sort of nebulous. Rally stages are huge and sending someone to tell people to move away from a specific corner could take quite a bit of time — even under ideal circumstances. But the FIA believes making the effort is an important part of ensuring the sport’s future wellbeing. It doesn’t take more than a couple high-profile tragedies before people will question whether or not rallying should even be legal and the potential for such liabilities in WRC are omnipresent.

“Even at the sport’s top, top level we still see spectators in the wrong place. These people either have a lack of knowledge, maybe it’s their first event or they’re the farmer who has walked out of his field to see what’s going on. Or they’re the fanatical fans supporting their favorite driver and want to get as close as possible. Or, worse still, they’re the YouTube heroes who want to lie at the side of road and film the stones flying over their own heads as the car passes within inches of them. All to increase the number of hits they get on their video,” Robertson cringed. “There’s an unbelievable range of people we have to reach out to right around the world, but that’s what the Rally Safety Guidelines will do.”

[Images: FIA]

Join the conversation
3 of 8 comments
  • Jatz Jatz on Mar 04, 2019

    Rallying is the most criminally dangerous activity I've ever seen termed a sport but I admittedly missed out on Mesoamerican ball games.

  • MBella MBella on Mar 04, 2019

    While it doesn't seem like anything proposed here is unreasonable, it's only a matter of time before they completely neuter the sport. Every other motorsport Has been.

    • PeriSoft PeriSoft on Mar 05, 2019

      What motorsports have been neutered in the name of safety, and how? I guess you could argue that F1 tracks have turned antiseptic, but probably 80% of that is business, not safety, when it comes down to it. Are pit lane limits neutering? HANS? Refueling regs? Lack of gruesome injuries doesn't mean neutering. Yeah, we don't have giant engines and slidey driving styles anymore, but that has nothing to do with safety and everything to do with technology and management realizing how to make a good car and drive it fast, and with external financial pressure on sanctioning bodies. How has safety come into it, specifically?

  • S J I’m here to say I don’t know about H #, but in German b flat is sometimes called “H”.Thats why composers (Liszt IIRC) could compose a theme and variations on B A C H.b flat sharp would be C, so there wouldn’t be a point.
  • Tassos The original, iconic 1964 Mustang sold for about $2,000.Is anybody still in doubt that the US Dollar has gone straight to hell?
  • Tassos I just read in Electrek that Lucid had to lay off 18% of its workforce, which amounts to a HUGE (considering the very meager production numbers) ONE THOUSAND THREE HUNDRED hard to replace employees laid off!!!
  • Kevin That wagon isn't worth 35,000 I paid 4,700 for a 68 chevelle and worth 80,000 today, when I bought it was 10x better shape than that but if someone wants it have at it but wouldn't be me.
  • MaintenanceCosts Assuming a level of refinement that's appropriately improved over the 9 years since the last car, these prices seem totally appropriate to me.