Lessons learnt after Gaurav Gill's INRC Jodhpur accident
A year ago, on September 21, 2019, Arjuna awardee Gaurav Gill, running first on the road at the INRC round in Jodhpur, crashed into three spectators on a motorcycle riding in the opposite direction on the live stage near the finish line. It was a terrible accident that permanently blighted the INRC’s stellar safety record and even put Gaurav Gill’s international rally career in jeopardy.
With the 2020 INRC calendar now being firmed up, we reached out to the FMSCI for a detailed list of all the new safety measures that will be implemented. This is their unedited, 13-point action plan.
Do you have any suggestions on how safety can be improved? Drop it in the comments section and we will forward it to the FMSCI.
1. The route should be inspected well in advance and if deemed necessary by the route inspector, then a second inspection will need to be done.
2. Put on record all the observations made by the inspector, make the organisers sign the report with a completion date. This report will be sent to the Rallycom [Rally Commission of the FMSCI], the observer and the safety delegate.
3. FMSCI appoints a safety delegate for the event, who would work with event CSO [Chief Safety Officer] as per FIA /FMSCI safety guidelines.
4. The FMSCI will appoint a legal representative at each event and his services may be used in case of any incident by the competitors and the organisers. His details will be available on the official notice board.
[This was one of the main suggestions made by Gaurav Gill himself post the 2019 accident]
5. Sufficient publicity must be given to the rally and the organiser must ensure all villages and houses are informed of the rally and the times at which the roads will be closed.
6. All permissions must be officially translated into English and displayed on the official notice board.
7. The road books handed to the FMSCI officials must be additionally marked showing the safety marshal locations.
8. The FMSCI safety delegate will go through the stage after the Setter Car [runs before the Zero Cars] to make sure everything in place in terms of safety.
9. The stage must be sanitised 30 minutes prior start of first car i.e. after the 00 car passes. Thereafter the observer will run between the 00 and 0 car whilst always ensuring that he completes the stage before the 0 car.
10. If the observer encounters any traffic on the route the stage would not be allowed to start until this has been rectified and the stage inspected once again.
11. The interval between 0 car and the first car will not be more than 10 minutes if the stages are less than 15km and 15 minutes if the stages are more than 15km. When the 0 car is on the stage it should be treated as if the stage is live.
12. The 0 car driver/co-driver must be experienced. The 0 car must be an appropriate rally-prepared car suitable to the nature of the stages.
13. The organisers need to send the name of their COC well in advance and he must have experience of running at least one INRC event and subject to an approval from the Rally Commission.
As someone who has actively competed in the INRC for six seasons, these are very good moves and, as they say, better late than never. We only hope that going forward, the FMSCI will keep the competitor’s interest, suggestions and concerns front and centre. And as the 2020 INRC calendar is firmed up, due care is taken to ensure the health and safety of the competitors and support crews and not succumb to pressure from the promoters to kick off the season in a remote, far-flung location that will only add enormous cost and complexity to the already serious challenges in the ‘new normal’.