By Anand Philar, Bangalore, Jan 11 IANS | 2 years ago

A round of the 2014 APRC Asia Cup has been allotted to India after the FIA-appointed observers, Murray Brown (New Zealand) and NS Nathan (Malaysia), gave top marks for last month's Coffee Day Rally held in Chikmagalur and which was a candidate event.

While the dates for the India-leg of the Asia Cup, the first of the five rounds, are still to be finalized in view of the general elections likely to be held from mid-April to mid-June, the official FIA Asia Pacific Rally Championship website, however, has pencilled in April 25-27.

According to sources in the Federation of Motor Sports Clubs of India (FMSCI), a fresh slot has been sought between the Asia Cup rounds in China (Nov 8-9) and Thailand (Dec 5-7), failing which the only option for India would be to sit out this season and run the event in April 2015.

In their report, Brown and Nathan gave the Coffee Day Rally a total of 952.5 points based on the overall conduct of the event in conformity with FIA regulations. The report also pointed out areas for improvement, notably crowd control, the quality and distances of the Special Stages that were run in tight and twisty coffee estates near Chikmagalur.

Highlighting the positives of the event, the report heaped high praise on the Clerk-of-the-Course (CoC) Dorairaj Ramkumar while also detailing areas that needed improvement to meet the FIA standards.

"The CoC displayed excellent skills and was obviously very well supported by his team on event. Fire and safety equipment was to a high standard. Marshalling and taping was in the majority very good," the report said.

"The CoC was calm and in control of event at all times, even when things went wrong; Impressive. All senior officials displayed experience and knowledge and were easy to deal with. In most instances, they (the officials) were familiar with FIA requirements," the report added.

The observers pointed out that the Safety Plan and crowd control at the Super Special Stage needed to be improved as also the terrain and length of the Special Stages to meet the exacting FIA standards.

"The Safety Plan needs to be prepared to the FIA standards, complete with more information than was in the event version. Crowd control at the SSS (Super Special Stage) needs major improvement.

"The event used three stages three times for a total distance of 109 km (36 km of virgin SS). Organisers are advised to locate at least another 80-100 kms of virgin SS to avoid repeating more than two times.

"Consideration should be given to using some stages in reverse, providing the stage surface can withstand multiple passes," the report said.

The observers also pointed out that in view of the high attrition rate (only 17 of 38 vehicles completed the event), the Special Stages should be widened to also increase the average speeds of the cars.

"Efforts need to be made to find minimum 80-100 kms of virgin SS kms. SS roads need to be improved (widened, improved base) to raise the average speeds. Repeating SS three times must be avoided to maintain sporting interest and challenge (also contravenes FIA regulations),the report said.

The observers report also refers to the 2010 Karnataka-1000 Rally that was run as a candidate event but failed to pass muster. Incidentally, Brown and Allen were the two FIA observers then.

It is obvious that the comments from the 2010 event in Bangalore have been actioned in most areas. The ASN (FMSCI) has taken "ownership" of the event unlike the 2010 event.

"There are a few areas which still need attention to bring up to full FIA compliance. High attrition rate was possibly due to the nature of the stages where average speeds were below 60 kmph.

"Five areas that organizers/FMSCI will need to focus on: 1. More kms to a suitable standard, within reasonable liaison distance; 2. A date for the event that once confirmed is not likely to change; 3. Upgrading the event documentation to FIA requirements; 4. Sufficient suitable accommodation for all officials and competitors; 5. Improved internet services for the event, media and competitors," the observers stated.

The observers also noted the absence of a shakedown that allows competitors to set up their vehicles ahead of the rally.

(Posted on 11-01-2014)