February 22nd 2008, 01:35

Safety is a number one problem!

The safety issues in motorsport are the most important and essential. Cars pass several inspection tests during the technical checks. During the race both people and machinery are working for the safety.

Human factor is a key one.

Baja “Northern Forest 2008” is one of only few rally-raids that can be proud of its secured access to special stages, sometimes even better than in classic rallies.Igor Kan, president of St.Petersburg Automobile Federation:

“There are 70-80 police officers on the 85 kms long route, about 20 foresters and 30 aviators, who have been working with us for a long time already. But it does not mean that there is a man every 100 m, most of them close the roads 1 km away from the route.
Blockage itself is a very uncomfortable issue for local citizens and moreover our rally takes place on the national holiday of 23rd of February. We began to inform local citizens one and a half month before the rally. But it is a village zone and it will be impossible to get there if some of the citizens want to do it. The rally-raid circuit route is blocked for the whole day, from
7 am till 7 pm. So, we know that there will be citizens’ discontent and claims. People are different, but even though they respect such championship they still are not able to accept such inconveniences...

We cannot compare the adrenaline, which sportsmen get on the rally with the adrenaline of the organisation committee. Sportsman sits behind the wheel, takes a breath in and then breath it out at the end of the day. But preparation process by the oragnisation committee lasts for weeks. Just imagine what kind of drive we get?!”

Technical factor – factor №2: what are IRITRACK and SENTINEL?

How can we control the car location in desert, in forest or in mountains? The rally-raid stages’ distance can be very long and there is a chance that lost car or the car, which had an accident, will never be found. We need to know the exact location every minute, because sometimes drivers are not able to inform us about their current location. Thanks to GPS, Global Positioning System, and satellite phone system Iridium (both of them cover almost the whole territory of the world) we can get to know what’s happening with a car and whether it’s moving or not, and in case of emergency we can connect with the crew via satellite phone.  

The most renowned system is IRITRACK. It has a very simple and reliable working system: the GPS location info signal is transfered by the phone connection line from time to time; This allows not only to understand where the car is at the moment, but also control the quality of the channel connection. The location of cars on the route appears on a special monitor in the rally-raid headquarters. Crews can inform the officials about serious accidents they had and ask for emergency aids. The signal is transferred directly to the headquarters. The main rally office can contact the crew in order to clarify the stop reasons in case the car hasn’t been driving for a long time. There is a blue button on IRITRACK module, which allows turning on the voice line. There is also another module option – a crew can inform the officials about the injured person in another car. In that case the sportsmen who informed about the injured crew won’t lose their competitive time. The time period they used for safety reasons will be subtracted from their notional time.

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