World Rally-Raid Championship

FIM, ASO, teams strive for rally raid rulebook safety changes

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Credit: Kin Marcin/Red Bull Content Pool

In June, the FIM‘s Rally-Raid Championship Committee met with the Amaury Sport Organisation (ASO) and team owners to discuss regulation changes for the World Rally-Raid Championship and sanctioned series like the Baja World Cup. Among the modifications were to better adhere with the FIA’s rally raid rulebook, which recently made its own edits with the same goal, introduce safety measures, and even limiting 2023 Dakar Rally eligibility to riders who meet specific qualifications.

Safety rules discussed include adding slow zones to the rider’s roadbook, a V-Max speed limit to the Rally GP and Rally 2 categories, and only permitting riders to install their roadbooks, replace their airbag vests, and re-supplying food and water while refuelling. Airbags are currently not required, but the FIM intends to strongly advise their usage for Rally GP in 2023 before mandating them the following year. Rally 2 competitors will also need the vests in 2024, while Rally 3 and Quad does so in 2025.

The baseline for helmets will also change as part of the FIM’s Racing Homologation Programme, which has the goal of reaching its second phase (FRHPhe-02) in Rally GP by 2024. Helmets with an Economic Community of Europe grade of 22.05 will be phased out as ECE 22.06 becomes the new minimum safety requirement. SNELL certification, set by the American Snell Memorial Foundation, has its floor at 2015 and 200 R/D, while the lowest allowed under the Japanese JIS standard is T8133:2015.

Should matters go awry for a rider, the FIM plans to open a Rallies Accident Database to monitor and analyse serious crashes. The FIA débuted the similar World Accident Database in 2016 for the same purpose.

Beyond safety, the meeting dived into the competition side by introducing an “Automatic [Time] Bonus” for the first five riders who start a given stage. Traditionally and regardless of vehicle, those who begin a desert race or rally raid late have the advantage of navigating a course already laid out by entrants who start first, which frequently leads to sandbagging to gain a “better” starting position deeper in the grid.

Seventeen figures attended the meeting, with five from the FIM (President Jorge Viegas, sporting director Jean-Paul Gombeaud, Cross-Country Commission director Jean-François Wulveryck and coordinator Svetlana Nazarova, and International Technical Commission technical manager Dominique Hebrard), four from the ASO (rally-raid director David Castera and technical manager Thierry Viardot, sporting coordinator Pierre Lenfant, and competition relations coordinator Charles Cuypers), and eight from the teams. The latter category saw representatives from Baines Rally (Pascal Dubos), Bas Dakar KTM Racing Team (Bart van der Velden), Hero MotoSports (Wolfgang Fischer), Honda Rally Team (Ruben Faria), KTM (Jordi Viladoms and Norbert Stadlbauer), and Sherco (David Casteu and Laurent Legat).

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Justin is not an off-road racer, but he writes about it for The Checkered Flag.
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