Motorsport Safety & Rescue - February 2009 Report

The Motorsport Safety & Rescue team has had a frantic start to the 2009 season, with two events already under their belt, and a successful test session in Malaysia with the MotorImage Rally Team.

The first event for the team was the inaugural Targa Wrest Point, held in and around Hobart in Tasmania. The success of the event was even more pleasing for the MSR team, with only one ambulance transport required during the event, for minor injuries after an accident.

That was followed up by Rally Tasmania, an event owned and run by rallying stalwart Les Walkden. As well as being the first round of the Australian Rally Championship, the all-tarmac rally also included the regular component for modern and classic rally cars. The ARC section was won by Neal Bates in a factory Toyota Corolla, while Tony Quinn’s Nissan GTR outlasted Jim Richards’ Porsche to win the modern class by just 4.4 seconds.

Again, MSR had a relatively quiet weekend in what was a great event.

Emma Gilmour and Cody Crocker (R) will drive for MotorImage in 2009.After the tarmac of the Apple Isle, it was off to the heat and humidity of Malaysia where MSR monitored a test session for the championship-winning MotorImage Rally Team. MotorImage are about to start their defence of the Asia-Pacific Rally Championship, with APRC champion Cody Crocker, and new driver, New Zealander Emma Gilmour.

MSR spent the test session performing heat stress testing on drivers Crocker and Gilmour, with surprising results.

“In the past we’ve always monitored the core body temperature of the crew, but for this test we concentrated on measuring their skin temperatures,” Becker said.

“It provided us with some amazing results. We discovered that we need to keep the skin temperature two degrees lower than the core temperature. When the skin temperature climbed, you could see the body showing signs of distress.”

The test results will prove vital in the heat and humidity of Asia, but also in other parts of the world as well.

“Interestingly, the body started showing more signs of stress when the cars were stationary on the start line,” Becker added. “Once the car was moving the air coming in through roof vents helped keep the body cool.”

MSR have spent over $5000 on the technology to monitor skin temperatures. The process involves the driver swallowing a capsule, which then gives temperature readings, and is used in conjunction with electrodes stuck to the skin.

Cody Crocker with one of the heat sensing pills.“Since these tests we’ve been in discussions with our cool vest manufacturers to make some modifications to the vests, which we believe will help to maintain a driver’s performance levels for much longer.”

In-car temperatures during the Malaysia test session were around 49 degrees, but these can increase significantly when conditions are more intense on rallies.

MSR’s involvement with MotorImage and the APRC continues with Rally Queensland, in June.

After the cancellation of the first round of the Victorian Rally Championship, the Cerberus Stages, in March, due to the Victorian bushfires, MSR’s next event will be round three of the Australian Rally Championship, the Forest Rally in Western Australia.

Seven safety crews will attend the event, before the massive task of covering Targa Tasmania for the first time.

For the six-day Targa event, 17 MSR safety crews will follow the event, with the team adding a Chief Medical Officer to their ranks for the duration of the rally.

MSR are excited about their first official involvement with Targa, and will be taking their crews into many of the smaller communities enroute to ensure easy deployment while the event is being held.

It will cap off an incredibly busy start to the year, however the team love being involved in events and can’t wait for them to start. Naturally, they’re hoping their role is a quiet one, and that all competitors get to the finish safely.

See you on the stages.