oldSTAGER No.114
February/March 2009

 

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West Essex Car Club


Not a Dirty Dozen

Someone recently loaned me a stack of old copies of Rally Sport. They covered mostly the years 1978-1979 so I studied a number of articles for a 30-year comparison. My eyes were drawn to “What Future Road Rallying?”

Mike Wise (now President of the LCAMC) reported on the recommendations of an RAC Working Group on road rallying. From this some of the regulations we see today were implemented: much stricter PR work on Standard Sections, the limited use of ‘A’ roads and the banning of private roads being used on such sections when timed to less than a second (Blue Book H49). The latter was seen as a nail in the coffin particularly for East Anglia which often used private roads to bypass habitation. Even today this seems an odd development, and now organisers circumvent by using private roads on Regularity Sections, which don’t have such restrictions.
One proposal met with much disapproval: 12-car rallies would have to PR’d to the same degree as road rallies. It was predicted to be the killer for these grass roots events. Other sensible limits did arrive, especially when they could be run (H95), but until recently this PR requirement remained.

I’m a supporter of 12-car rallies because they are an ideal (and cheap) introduction to forms of road rallying, and as an organiser require little effort in comparison to a full permit event.

For the HRCR Essex 100 this year I planned the outline route using TrackLogs digital maps. This allowed me to juggle roads until I had four sectors of about 25 miles between the halts. Distance measurement in Tracklogs is accurate enough for to-the-minute timing, but for the regularities I then used the aerial views from Google Earth to locate convenient points for controls e.g. gateways at least 500 metres from habitation, and the ruler feature to measure distances to an accuracy of 0.01 miles for regularity timing. Finding a start/finish and lunch venue (for a daylight event) to accommodate 12 crews and a few marshals isn’t difficult: pubs, garden centres and country parks will welcome the business; and a main requirement for a mid-morning/afternoon break is a toilet, so picnic spots and fuel stations are handy. Sure, it helps to know the local roads and venues, but the bulk of my planning was done without leaving the comfort of my home office.

The biggest time, money and hassle saver is avoiding PR. A common and legal practice is to get an exemption from the local RLO for a daylight event. These folk appreciate that – for conscientious organisers – the expense of PRing a 12-car is prohibitive if you want to set a modest entry fee; and drawing attention to a few cars passing is bound to unearth one killjoy Nimby who otherwise wouldn’t notice.

An interesting evolution came three years ago when “Chin” (aka Martin Chinnery) conceived the 2020 format – a kind of 12-car on steroids – which was discussed at the Road Rally Working Group and later at the Rallies Committee. With the permission of the MSA, this is a properly authorised night navigation rally limited to 20 crews and 20 controls, no overall awards (certificates to finishers with a clean sheet have been used), and a sensible limit on distance and therefore time of night – like 100 miles and stopping before 01:00. Thus far this is no different to a conventional night rally except that with the approval of the RLO no, or only relaxed, PR is required. This dispensation doesn’t suit all areas, but this fillip is great for clubs wanting to keep night events running.

The 2009 BB has finally caught up to this development with a change to chart H10(a), PR category H, which now reads “Letter to each householder within 100m, unless the RLO agrees to a lesser requirement”. The previous rider “on daylight events” has now been removed.

There are only a few other rally changes in the 2009 BB. One that gets my vote is the outlawing of racing style numbers on road events. Discrete, ideally fluorescent, numbers inside a rear window seem to be the way to go.

The use of in-car cameras on the public highway is out (H36); 14-year-old navigators are allowed on single venue stage rallies (H20) and 14-year-old drivers too under the new Junior Rally Driver Championships regulations (H261.2). There are a handful of technical changes, but no movement of the 70 profile tyres argument aired in oldSTAGER last month.

Finally, for 12-car devotees there is a relevant (mostly Thames Valley based) website at www.12carcapers.co.uk. One of the regular organisers there is Steve Barber. I mention him because he won the Internet table-top rally I ran over the Christmas/New Year period and he registered a perfect score on all the route cards. Maybe 12-car rallies are good for your plotting too!