Roles in Rallying
Block Marshals in a Rally or any Motorsport Event run on public roads closed for the duration of the event are essential people.
The role is simple but not always easy.
A brief description of the role is to ensure the security of the roads, competitors and public.
This is by advising any public who wish to enter the road that it is closed and at what time it is to be reopened. This may require some diplomacy and tact together in some cases with firmness.
You are given a briefing prior to being stationed at your point and armed with copies of paperwork to show those who wish to see evidence of the road closure and it’s legality.
Intersections are taped off with copious amounts of rally tape and all residents have been visited and their willingness gained to have the road closed for the event duration. Often non locals may be unaware of the closure so these good folk need to be informed about it, what is happening and that it is a legally enforceable closure.
I can assure anyone considering this role they have a front row view of some pretty good action. The intersections and corners we have to have block marshals usually have some great viewing opportunities.
You see people hanging out in what we call “control zones” often with timing equipment around them.
Timing marshals help at start and finish controls of special stages in rallies or a start and finish line on sprint events.
Timing marshals are trained in the role and this involves the filling out of time cards and entering times on an electronic system at major rallies or simplified systems at club sprint events. Sometimes stop watches are used but mostly now days there is some form of electronic system so times are accurate and maybe timed to 100th of a second.
Start and finish controls are same but different. Both have preformatted log sheets to complete for tracking car numbers and times and they fill out times cards the competitors carry to give the start time, finish time and time taken to complete the special stage or course being used.
These roles do require a degree of neatness in handwriting, and attention to detail and most of all a sense of humour.
Rally timing crews get to see some magnificent countryside and go to places they may have never even heard of, and get to meet the competitors and be part of the event.
Service Park Timing Crews
A service park is where entrants have to service their vehicles, which is a controlled area under very specific conditions and rules.
At the entry to a service park competitors are required to check in to a time control. This is like special stage timing and the competitors time card will have their time of reporting, entry. Service parks can have other controls which all use the same process of time card notations and log sheets to backup the electronic equipment so all competitors are tracked and kept to a timetable. If they fail to report to any time control by their due time they incur penalties so they are usually very diligent at being in the right place at the right time.
Post Chief’s effectively run or control a Special stage on a car rally. These guys and ladies have extensive knowledge of rallying and the rules relating to this part of the sport along with experience at all positions on a timing crew. They guide their timing crew and ensure the special stage runs to time and follows the rules of the sport. It is essential that all competitors get their times recorded correctly and the log sheets are completed in a neat hand writing and times calculated at the finish control correctly. This is the duty of a Post Chief who run the time controls at both a start and finish control, and at all other time controls within the rally schedule.
Assistant Clerk Of The Course (ACOTC)
All events are controlled by a licenced Clerk Of The Course. This applies to all events run under a Motorsport NZ permit. At rallies because they are run at remote locations and over many different roads, the Clerk Of The Course needs suitably qualified assistants at each special stage in case of any incidents that need his/her input. The Assistant Clerk Of The Course will communicate with the “COC” and carry out any instructions or act in his/her absence and may make decisions on the “COC’s” behalf.
An Assistant Clerk Of The Course (ACOTC) must be either very experienced at the discipline they are officiating at, whether it be a rally, or race event, or licenced as one of various levels of officials within the Motorsport NZ structure.
Competitor Relations Officers (CRO’s)
A Competitor Relations Officer is a licenced official whose role is to be a liaison between the event Clerk Of The Course and the competitors. This person must be fully knowledgeable of the sports rules. The “CRO” will handle competitor enquiries and report these to the “COC” and become involved in advising the competitor on their rights and the rules relating to their enquiries or breaches of the rules.
A Competitor Relations Officer as a licenced official has considerable experience and will have attended seminars and completed the qualifications pertaining to this role.