FIA Safety Week: Successful FIA Rally and Cross-Country Officials Seminar highlights strong level of interest and participation

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Delegates from around the world gathered virtually for the third digital version of the FIA Rally and Cross-Country Officials Seminar, which took place on Wednesday 25 January, 2023.

Organised as a key component of the FIA Safety Week, the FIA Rally and Cross-Country Officials Seminar once again provided the perfect platform for the FIA Rally and Safety departments and its expert speakers to update members of the rally and cross-country communities on all that was achieved in 2022 and provide an overview of the regulation changes and other developments for 2023.

The Seminar also served as an opportunity for event organisers and officials – many of whom work on a volunteer basis to help make motor sport happen – to put questions to members of the FIA Rally Department, while also bringing their experience and expertise to the various sessions.   

After 500 people registered for the 2022 FIA Rally and Cross-Country Officials Seminar, this year’s event attracted 860 registrations from 79 countries to underline the high level of interest and participation in the rally and cross-country disciplines globally.

Hosted by broadcaster and presenter Tom Clarkson, the Seminar began with an introduction by FIA Rally Department Director Andrew Wheatley, who updated delegates on the department’s structure, including Marina Duñach’s appointment as Rally Category Manager.

Wheatley then gave an overview of the main achievements in the FIA World Rally Championship in 2022 and what will be different in 2023. 

He focused on the advent of the hybrid-based Rally1 era at the top of the FIA Rally Sporting Pyramid and the benefits it has brought, including greater sustainability, safety and accessibility. He also highlighted the close nature of the competition between the manufacturers, who achieved success using three very different vehicle types – B-Class, C-Class and Compact Crossover – in keeping with the philosophy of the regulations.

Looking ahead to 2023, Wheatley highlighted some of the measures being implemented to achieve greater sustainability, such as reducing the number of testing days and tyres used on events, while also underlining the importance of the WRC’s return to North and South America and the all-new Central European Rally, a joint initiative by the Austrian, Czech and German ASNs. 

FIA Regional Rally and Cross-Country Category Manager Jérôme Roussel updated delegates on rallying at regional level, the FIA Rally Star talent detection initiative, the emergence and growth of the FIA World Rally-Raid Championship and the various Cups for Cross-Country Bajas in operation. He also explained the background to the exciting FIA European Rally Trophy restructure for 2023.

FIA Steward Uwe Schmidt provided an update of the main changes to the International Sporting Code and joined Roussel in explaining what has changed in terms of the Regional Rally and Cross-Country Sporting Regulations. They also responded to several questions from event organisers.

FIA Rally Safety Engineer Clément Lauté joined President of the FIA Closed Road Commission, FIA World Rally Championship Deputy Safety Delegate and Member of the Rally Safety Task Force Nicolas Klinger to deliver the Rally Operational Safety Seminar.

Key elements included guidance on building a safety team, special stage selection, safety documentation creation, safety messaging and briefings, running an event, event debriefing and the availability of supporting material produced by the FIA.

The session included contributions from four remote speakers, FIA WRC Safety Delegate Michèle Mouton, FIA ERC Safety Delegates Bertil Klarin and Benjamin Schmidt, and FIA African Rally Championship Safety Delegate and Co-Ordinator William Louw.

Roussel, Schmidt and Wheatley also took part in the Stewards’ Case Studies session along with guest speaker Arnas Paliukenas, an FIA Steward and qualified lawyer.

FIA Rally Director Andrew Wheatley said: “Firstly, we thank FIA Safety Director Tim Malyon and his colleagues for incorporating the FIA Rally and Cross-Country Officials Seminar into the framework of the FIA Safety Week, which was very beneficial. We also thank everyone who gave up their time to take part, particularly those who presented or asked questions. Once again, the Seminar’s digital format ensured an extremely high level of participation by delegates from the rally and cross-country communities around the world, for whom attending an in-person event would have been impractical. We hope the information given and the experiences shared will be useful for those organising and officiating and we look forward to another successful season in 2023 when the focus will again be on delivering safe, sustainable and accessible competition.”