EVENT FORMAT

REGULATIONS

These are posted on the event website usually 4-6 weeks before the event – the FIRC website has all the event links on the calendar page. You will need to keep watch as to when the entry is open as some events get very full very quickly.

The entry form will be online and when completed and sent in, goes direct to the Entries Secretary. Try and keep a copy if at all possible as you may not always get an acknowledgement back – this is normal practice in Belgium. Also not all events post up entry lists. But if you do have any queries it is best to contact one of the FIRC personnel as it has been found in the past it is easier to solve any issues this way.

In Belgium for local competitors they have to pay their entry fee by the equivalent of BACS transfer, before the entry is accepted. However, for the foreign entries you can pay by IBAN but at the moment the organisers are still happy to accept payment by cash at signing on.

Please do not expect seeded entry lists to be posted prior to the event, they are usually issued at signing on. The reason is quite simple, the events tend to publish programmes with the stage maps and entry list in them, and if the list is pre-published then they don’t sell as many programmes which help to support the event – a good idea!

However, some events will advise the FIRC team of the seeding for the UK competitors, but in essence there is no real need or requirement to know in advance. If there are any issues with the seeding – queries should be via the FIRC contacts, we cannot guarantee anything will be changed as this will depend on the nature of the query.

RECCE

Within the regulations there will be a timetable of where to be and when for the various elements you need to be involved in.

On the day before the event - there will be a time and location where you will sign-on and collect the road book so you can go out and recce the stages. It is at this point you will normally find out your start number and also the time that you need to be at documentation for the main sign on, licence checks and payment of money due.

With the road book don’t expect anything flash or fancy, they are usually quite basic but serve the purpose. It will have all the information you need but will not come with over view maps. The best option is to buy a rally programme so you can see where the stages are and the road sections.

A trip in the recce car will be a good idea as the street signs are often not very visible and the co-driver will need to add notes as some of the junctions are not easily spotted or obvious, so prepare by driving the road route in its entirety, it is well worth doing.

With recce make sure you are aware of times when you can and cannot be on the stages. They are often manned usually by the set-up crews who will pull you over if they feel speed or behaviour is not acceptable. The event runs on the good will of the locals and the clubs are very keen to maintain this. Penalties and fines are imposed by the event and also the local police for any infringements. The roads at this point are still public, with 2 way traffic often on very narrow country lanes. So you do need to be very careful as the locals are often on bikes and in the middle of the road. It is worth bearing in mind that in Belgium bikes have the right of way – you have been warned!

SIGNING ON

This is different in that documentation and signing on is first, then the car goes into Technical.

The documentation times are usually shown in different time periods for blocks of numbers.  I.e. cars 1 – 20 from 13:00 to 14:00. You do need to turn up at your allotted time and this may mean that you have to have a break from the recce.

This is where the licences are checked both driving and MSA for both crew members. You will need to pay over the entry fee. This is in 2 parts – the entry fee to the organising club and the insurance to VAS.

Though not strictly necessary, you may find it useful to carry a letter from the MSA authorising you to compete abroad. There is no charge for this, just contact the MSA and ask for one. link 

At documentation you will be given a time – usually on the process card you will have had, to take the car into Technical Scrutiny.

TECHNCIAL

What is also different from the UK is that there is no noise check.

 In Technical it is not essential for the crew to be with the car, but they will expect someone who has a detailed and in depth knowledge to be there to answer questions.

In Belgium they are only looking at safety elements, not eligibility and the scrutineers are very thorough, so don’t be surprised that they look all over the vehicle. They will pull you up if there is anything wrong, out of date, unsafe – so the responsibility is down to you to make sure the car is perfectly safe and in date before you load it into the trailer – more than one UK crew have had to purchase new seats, belts, helmets etc. before they are allowed to pass Technical, there are no exceptions.

The scrutineers will check all elements of clothing and yes, this does include all the underwear, so make sure everything has the correct labels showing. One trick especially with the socks is to keep a brand new pair in the bag especially for this purpose as the labels have a tendency to fall off.

It is at this point they will ask for copies of the MOT certificate, V5 and the insurance certificate, they do keep these, so make sure you are not handing over the originals and there is not always a photocopier to hand. I make a point of having several copies in the folder with all the vehicle documents. They will also check the MSA log book. it is becoming increasingly common that the scrutineers will keep your log book and return it either at the final MC or service control. The crew are then normally asked to sign that they are entered into the correct class. The process slip is signed and stamped and this is kept by the co-driver who will exchange this for the timecard at MC1 – so don’t lose it!

From Technical most events will have parc ferme and you will either be given a time to put the car in or the regulations will say by what time all cars need to be in parc ferme. So please check which applies as events to tend to differ.

Obviously as in the UK and as per FIA regulations once in parc ferme no work may be carried out on the vehicle.

Once all vehicles are through Technical and in parc ferme, the start list will be published. This is not always on line and can often be very late at night. So may have to get up early to get down to rally HQ to check the bulletin board for your due time out of parc ferme.

RALLY DAY

The fomat of the rallies the FIRC offer are very simple 3 or 4 stages run over 3 or 4 loops. So the stages will not change through the day.

As they are on closed public roads, timing is critical so if there is any hint of a long hold up on a stage they will cancel and re-route to the next stage. The re-routes will be in the back of the road book and this is where the spectator overview map is often invaluable.

Events only run international timing – so from stage start to stage arrival. They also have re-groups often before service to close up any gaps. Each loop is run from Main Control to Main Control and rather than have all the timecards together, you are issued with one sheet per loop of stages, so if you like keeping records of your times you will need to keep these elsewhere as there is no tear off part for you to keep.

Be very careful at time controls – stage arrival and service in and out. It is best not to pass the yellow board until your minute is on the clock, the marshals will put the time on your card when the car entered the control. This is none negotiable!

In the event of a hold up, the onus is on the co-driver to go to the arrival marshal to get the correct time. The marshals will not leave their post and walk down the line. It is also worth remembering that they will only give you the time on the clock when you hand the card over. You will not be able to argue that the car is several 100 metres up the road and you have had to run down to the control and that you were in on your minute. They will point at the clock and shrug!

Please note it is the local crews who are often caught out on this and they are able to argue their case in Flemish!

Oh and don't forget - it is not unheard of for competitors to be breathalysed during the rally....

LAPPING STAGES

The starts on the normal stages are the same as the UK – either a clock or a manual count down from the start marshal – just watch the hand signals!

On lapping stages the start is slightly different and one to be aware of so that panic does not set in when things don’t go as you think. 

The start marshal will have a spotter who will be looking down the stage for oncoming cars to make sure no one else is coming to the merge. You will be given a start time on your card. The countdown will begin, but if the spotter indicates a car is approaching, the start marshal will hold you back. Once the car has passed he will indicate that he will recommence the countdown but from 10 seconds and will release you. However, the time on your card will not be changed. The timing will actually start when you break the timing beam which will be a couple of metres in front of the car. The time on your card will be wrong, but don’t worry as you only need the start time to work out your arrival at the next stage. The start team will note your actual start time when you broke the beam and this is passed to the results. So it all happens in the background and there is no need to panic!

GENERAL POINTS

We have always found the local crews incredibly friendly and helpful. Especially if there is a change such as a re-route assistance is usually to hand. It is always a good idea to chat with the locals.