Motorsport UK has outlined initial plans on how motorsport could return from the coronavirus-induced break in Britain, with some of the strictest conditions set to apply to rallying.
The UK governing body suspended all of its event permits until 30 June but as the English government is beginning to relax some lockdown restrictions – including those covering sport – Motorsport UK has drawn up guidance to event organisers, officials and competitors of what measures will need to be in place to enable the resumption of motorsport.
At this stage, the guidance is subject to change and no precise dates or timeframes have been applied to the measures, but there is an emphasis on social distancing and increased use of online methods to handle many aspects of event administration.
Motorsport UK CEO Hugh Chambers said: “This project has involved a wide representation of the motorsport community coming together and examining how each aspect of every discipline can be adapted to respect government advice on social distancing, and the broader needs of the community.
“It is important that when we do restart motorsport that we do so in a safe and responsible fashion that respects the broader public health agenda and mood of the nation.”
Rallying restrictions remain tight
Disciplines that involve two people sharing a car will face some of the strictest restrictions and may not resume for a significant period after other areas of motorsport.
This particularly applies to rallying and the guidelines state that it is unlikely passengers or navigators will be allowed initially.
This means only rally time trials – where drivers repeat a single stage that is shorter than four miles multiple times to see who can complete the route the quickest – at “secure single venues” will be allowed.
No stage or road rallies will be permitted until government recommendations change.
The Motorsport UK guidance states: “In the first phase of re-establishing rallying, to respect government requirements for social distancing, the assumption has been made that vehicles must be single occupancy with no passengers or navigators and no shared driving of vehicles.
“Since not all competitors are in the position that their passenger, navigator or shared driver can be a cohabitant and to ensure fair play and ease of application of these guidelines it is the safest first step to re-establishing events.
“This affects safety cars and other officials as well as competitors and why, in this first tentative phase, it is envisaged that only a rally timed trial at a secure single venue where spectators can be excluded is permissible.
“As soon as government restrictions permit a change, guidance will be updated to permit the re-establishing of stage and road rallies from 12 Cars and navigational scatters to road, historic road, Targa road and navigation rallies.
“At the current time it is not anticipated that these will change substantially for the immediate foreseeable future.
“This may change, subject to further clarification or guidance from government.”
Social distancing installed in circuit racing
All competitors, officials and members of the media will need to sign a pre-event declaration to state that they have not suffered COVID-19 symptoms within the two weeks preceding the event.
Guidance set out for the resumption of circuit racing events includes the need for signing-on to be electronic and away from venues, for scrutineering to be in an open environment and for visual checks to be used wherever possible.
Marshals will need to wear personal protective equipment (PPE) in line with government guidance and there will be only two marshals per post to ensure social distancing.
In terms of stranded vehicles, it is expected that one marshal would approach the car and if the driver is OK, they should give a thumbs up signal, while medical crews – with greater levels of PPE – would deal with more serious incidents.
Team personnel and race administration staff will also be limited to help with social distancing and competitors will be instructed to remain in or next to their car in parc ferme and assembly areas.
Venues have also been told any walkways that are below the minimum social distance – currently two metres – would have to be made one-way.
Races featuring driver changes will be another area to have extra rules, with pitstop times extended to allow for contact areas to be sanitised after the first driver has left the car.
The full guidance for all of the different disciplines can be found on Motorsport UK’s website.