Sat 12 Feb 2022

ERC officials among record worldwide participation in Second FIA Rally and Cross-Country Webinar

A record 500 officials and representatives of the rally and cross-country communities from 84 countries, together with experts and speakers, attended the 2022 FIA Rally and Cross-Country Officials Seminar on January 10 and 11 with the virtual format making such a high level of participation possible.

Made up of Stewards, Clerks of the Course and event organisers, the delegates were invited to follow sessions on the latest changes to the International Sporting Code and sporting regulations, rally safety updates, drafting of supplementary regulations and the role and duties of Stewards on events.

The seminar started with a welcome message from FIA President Mohammed Ben Sulayem, who highlighted the strength of the various rally disciplines, with more than 50 ASNs organizing international events on all continents, and the importance of sharing good practices and decisions at all FIA events.

An opening session hosted by the FIA Rally Department’s Head of Categories Jérôme Roussel and Andrew Wheatley provided a recap of the 2021 season in the WRC, regional rally and cross-country, plus a look ahead to 2022, including a review of the opening round of the inaugural FIA World Rally-Raid Championship, the Dakar, and the exciting FIA Rally Star talent detection initiative, which continues to gather momentum following the first Continental Final in Germany last month. It was also the opportunity for the newly elected presidents of the Cross-Country Commission, Dimitry Makhenya, and WRC Commission, Roger Engström, to introduce themselves to the participants.

FIA Deputy President for Sport Robert Reid made a very well-received speech to launch the two-day seminar, highlighting the ambitions of the new presidential team in motor sport and the vision for rally and cross-country, which generated many questions and reactions from the meeting attendees.

“This seminar is a very important feature in the rally and cross-country calendar for the year, making sure that people are updated, giving the opportunity to people to share best practice and their experience and generally come together,” he said. “It also gives participants an understanding of the vision but also some of the technical details in terms of regulation changes and of course, very importantly, the safety updates. We publish Rally Safety Guidelines every year and it’s really important that everybody understands the safety obligations and works together to create a safe sport.

“We were elected just over 50 days ago on a mandate of growth, transparency and regional empowerment, with a vision that the FIA should be a global voice for motor sport and mobility worldwide. Certainly, from those objectives, regional empowerment is very important, and whilst we have the World Rally Championship and now a World Championship for Cross-Country, we also have regional championships around the world. And it’s very important for us to see these championships being supported, these championships growing.”

Uwe Schmidt, member of the FIA Rally and Cross-Country Commissions, used the first sessions to summarise the changes to the International Sporting Code and to the Regional Rally as well as Cross-Country Sporting Regulations for 2022. He and Roussel talked delegates through each rule update, taking time to respond to questions from the audience.

The FIA Safety Department hosted a very comprehensive session updating delegates on various aspects of rally safety. Clément Lauté presented the revised version of the Rally Safety Guidelines, which take account of the latest requirements and technical innovations at the start of the season, and an overview of approved Smart Tracking solutions for event organisers at grassroots level. He pointed to as the main reference hub for all FIA Rally Safety documentation, now also including ready-to-use campaign visuals for rally spectator safety as well as Smart and Regional Tracking specifications.

Yvan Devigne took the participants through the e-safety elements and operational procedures linked to the new-generation Rally1 cars. This included an overview of the e-learning modules, on-site training and toolkits provided by the FIA to assist safety delegates, marshals and event organisers.

As part of their presentation about operational safety on rallies, FIA Safety Delegate Michèle Mouton and Deputy Safety Delegate Nicolas Klinger outlined the role of the safety caravan and the importance of managing spectator areas. Key requirements of competitor safety, such as pre-competition checks and protective clothing, were also outlined, before the session concluded with a run through several case studies.

Day two of the seminar started with a session on the drafting and checking of supplementary regulations with the objectives to recall key regulatory requirements, provide practical recommendations for organisers to create the document and highlight recurring problem areas for observers to check. Acropolis Rally Clerk of the Course and FIA Sporting Delegate for the ERC Anita Passalis joined Schmidt and Roussel in sharing expert inputs and experience.

A final meeting covering the role and duties of the Stewards on events was hosted by Schmidt and Waltraud Wunsch and was followed by an interactive, practical session on specific case studies presented by FIA stewards Mazen Al Hilli, Jean-Pierre Tardent, Edoardo Delleani, Jordi Parro and Silver Kütt.

Summarising and concluding the event, Robert Reid said: “It was a very successful webinar and I would like to say thank you to the FIA Rally and Safety departments for organising this annual event virtually, to the contributors of the various sessions, to the Stewards for sharing these case studies. Looking at the chat, I believe everybody thinks alike and is very grateful for this meeting and this opportunity. It is great to see the engagement and also great to see so many people joining the seminar. The restrictions brought about by COVID-19 have obviously created difficulties but one positive that comes from it is that we have been able to embrace those online platforms, and this enables a lot of delegates to be present. I’m glad the meeting could take place this way. Again, thanks to everybody’s contribution, for the great presentations and experiences shared today and have a safe and successful season 2022.”

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