Rallies around the world could learn some lessons from key elements of Sol Rally Barbados, according to Sue Sanders, international training programme manager of the Motor Sports Association, Britain’s governing body.
Invited by the Barbados Rally Club to observe this year’s 24th running of the Club’s blue riband event, Sanders has recently delivered a detailed evaluation, the first of its type carried out in the region.
In her summary, Sanders wrote: “The event is a credit to the Barbados Rally Club. I can honestly say it is of a high standard and many UK and other national events I have attended around the world can learn something from your welcoming approach and your genuine desire for people to enjoy both the sport, and Barbados.”
Already familiar with the island, having assisted in a senior officials training program run by the Barbados Motoring Federation in January, Sanders is a former stage commander and safety officer of Britain’s round of the World Rally Championship, and works on safety and training around the world. She based her assessment of the Caribbean’s biggest annual motor sport International on the standard format
of Observers Report used by the MSA, for example when evaluating an event which is seeking championship status for the first time.
There are five main headings: 1 – Standard Documentation, ranging from road book through time cards to Safety Plan; 2 – Start and Finish; 3 – Safety, including Safety Cars, Emergency Vehicles, Manpower and safety for both competitor and spectator; 4 – Itinerary and Infrastructure, dealing not only with special stages, but also road sections, service facilities,
parc ferme, scrutineering and reconnaissance; 5 –
Organisation. A total of 190 specific questions are listed, with five levels
of evaluation – Level 3 is the expected or desired standard, with two levels above and below, ranging from extremely high to totally unacceptable. The final section, Organisation, is the longest, representing just over one-third of the report, covering everything from pre-event promotion, the arrangements for import of cars and equipment, Rally HQ, communications, timekeeping and results to the competence, experience and performance of the senior officials.
Parallel with Sanders, experienced British eligibility scrutineer Geoff Doe worked with the local scrutineers, focusing particularly on WRC and Group N cars.
BRC Chairman Mark Hamilton said: “Sue travelled with a number of our senior officials to critique the event, and seek areas where we could improve. Bearing in mind that the club has no full-time staff, I am proud of what we have achieved and I am pleased that many of her comments are so positive about the way we do things here – it looks as though we got about eight or nine out of 10.
“Geoff was more hands-on, and made some valuable suggestions, too. Having two people with so much experience worldwide take a good look at Sol Rally Barbados has been really valuable. We have always listened to comments from our overseas visitors, but no-one has taken such a close look at every component of the organisation before. We now understand better a number of ways in which we can make move ahead.
“Sue and Geoff have both worked around the world helping events grow in stature. They are not trying to impose WRC- style requirements on us, simply working with us to help us make the best of our local resources . . . and I thank them for their input,” Hamilton said.
Planning for Sol Rally Barbados 2014 is already under way, with the dates and the opening of on-line entries due to be confirmed in the coming weeks. (RB)
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