Motorsport Safety & Rescue - March 2009 Report

The importance of the right safety equipment in rallying came to the fore when the Motorsport Safety & Rescue team attended several accidents at the QUIT Forest Rally in Western Australia early in April.

The event capped off a busy few weeks for the MSR team with three motorsport events, and their first involvement with surfing.

The Forest Rally, round three of the Australian Rally Championship, saw seven crews of two provide medical and rescue services to the event, and they were kept busy throughout the weekend.

“There was a lot of carnage, but the strength of the cars meant that there were no injuries, which was very pleasing,” MSR’s Geoff Becker said.

The biggest accident the team attended was that of rally leader, Darren Windus, who hit a tree stump at approximately 95km/h. The MSR team were quickly on the scene, with Windus trapped inside the car.

His condition was initially categorised as serious, but was then downgraded to stable. Once he was extricated from the Toyota Corolla and taken back to the service area in Nannup, he was given the all clear. The following day he was suffering only general soreness.

Another driver to have a big accident was Justin Dowel, who rolled his Lancer Evo IX after the finish line on day two. Both Windus, and Dowel’s co-driver, Matt Lee, heralded the effectiveness of the head and neck support (HANS) device fitted to their helmets, and Becker says it is another valuable message to competitors.

“Once again the accidents showed the importance of the head and neck restraint systems. Their importance really came to the fore again, and we would strongly recommend that all competitors seriously consider them.”

While they are not cheap, their benefits are substantial, with both Windus and Lee claiming they could feel the devices working during their accidents.

“There are a few options available to competitors, including the HANS device and the Leatt Brace, and all of them work very effectively,” Becker added.

The MSR team also provided medical response at a North West Car Club event in Tasmania (no incidents) and at the AMSAG rally in New South Wales (no incidents).

“Our crew reported that one of the great things about the AMSAG event was that there was a lot of rally people from the CAMS system helping out on what is a non-CAMS event,” Becker said. “That’s great for the sport, because we should all be working towards the same goal of providing quality events for competitors.”

Outside the motorsport field, MSR provided FIV support for the O’Neill’s Cold Water Classic surfing carnival on the north west coast of Tasmania. The event included many international surfers among the 150-strong field.

Only three surfers required minor medical treatment, but the MSR crew were pleased to move into a different field, and become involved with an international sporting event.

The next month will be a busy one for MSR. First up is Rally Bonnie Doon, the first round of the Victorian Club Rally Series, which has attracted a field of 90 cars (although only 60 are allowed to start the event).

For that event, the Evans brothers, Simon and Eli, will drive the medical response vehicles, as they have done in previous years. Having two of Australia’s leading rally drivers involved is not only good publicity for MSR, but shows that even drivers at the top of the sport are out on events, working for the good of the sport.

“It’s great to have Simon and Eli involved, and the competitors enjoy seeing them around club level rallying as well. It helps promote the safety message, and the sport of rallying in general.”

On the same weekend MSR will provide crews for the Lithgow round of the NSW Rally Championship, and for a track event in Tasmania.

Ten days later, MSR’s first involvement with the six-day Targa Tasmania begins. With a field of over 250 entrants for the all-tarmac event, MSR will provide 16 medical response crews for the event.

Honda has supplied an Integra to use as an incident control vehicle at Targa, while Toyota have once again supplied a Troop Carrier as the major rescue vehicle for the event.

It promises to be an exciting time although, as usual, Becker and his team are hoping to have very little to do.

Until next month, when we’ll have a full report on MSR’s motorsport involvement, stay safe, and enjoy your motorsport.