Marshaling on the Second Closed Road Corbeau Seats Tendring Rally

A year or so ago, I spent a couple of days in Essex attending the first closed roads rally in England. Last weekend saw the second running of this event, with some longer stages and another full day’s running.

This time I stopped over for a couple of nights in case I got the nod to help out with the set up (I didn’t in the end), taking in a band in Colchester on the Friday night:

If you look at that video closely, you’ll see they make use of a theremin:-)

Saturday was scrutineering, tea and cake in the rally HQ, and a peek at one of the WRC spec cars…

Despite only being 15 minutes or so away from stage start, it was still an early one, with sign in before 7am, whence I was give my station for the day: Cadman Construction 1 /2 /3 — Stage 2/6/10, radio / marshal point 2.

Being a closed roads event, our T-junction station was only partially set when I got there…

…but as soon as the road-closed time arrived, we closed it off…

Being a radio point, there were three of us on, one radio marshal, and two runners (of which I was one…).

I’ve been on a radio point before, but it’s always interesting to listen in on the traffic and help keep a note of the car numbers that go passed. Radio marshals keep a record of the number of each car that passes to help locate which section of a stage any cars that go missing (which is to say, that go off..) are missing on…

Being a single radio analogue channel, rally control maintains discipline on the channel. Formal code words are used to help identify and prioritise different message types:

SUPeR System

In order to process an incident more efficiently there is a key word system in place. The application of this system is explained below and is in use on a national basis. Should you be advised of, or witness an incident you may include one of the following prefix words in your initial call to your radio controller:

(a) SAFETY For messages concerning stage safety, e.g. car overdue, first competitor into stage, stage furniture problems, spectator marshalling – problems where a slight delay can be tolerated.

(b) URGENT For situations requiring immediate action, e.g. car known to be in difficulty, suspected injured persons – problems which may necessitate the cessation of the stage.

(c) PRIORITY For situations where there is a CONFIRMED injury(s) – situations where immediate Medical/Rescue intervention is required

(d) RELEVANT For messages which have a bearing on the incident – submission of relevant information

Here’s a copy of a Radio Marshal Guide if you’re interested…

Being a radio point also meant we were a red flag station. If for any reason a stage needs to be stopped, or speed controlled on the stage, radio marshals receive a message for the red flag to be shown (not waved) to competitor cars. The red flag is also shown to safety delegates that pass through the stage prior to competitive running:

Marshals communicate to official vehicles using standardised hand signals:

As you may have noticed from the schedule, each of the stages was run three times, thankfully without major incident.

That said, there were a couple of minor offs we spotted, including this one where we lost sight of a car as it parked sideways and hid itself in the bushes…

The previous marshal point to ours was also visited by one of the cars…

Although not quite as sunny as last year, the wet weather mostly held off, although the day was quite blustery and windswept… Hats, and even gloves, were in order…

Once the rally’s run, the stage needs undressing: we took the tape and signage as soon as the stage was no-longer live and within an hour the setup crew had been round to take the kit away…

Once again, I can’t begin to imagine how much effort goes into the organisation, set-up, and running of the event.

Thanks to Chief Marshal Luis Diaz and the rest of the organising team for putting together such a great event, the drivers and navigators for competing, and a big #thanksmarshal to the other volunteers on this, and every other, motor sport event.

I saw reports that over 500 volunteers were required for the safe running of this event. 500… If you fancy it, the next closed roads rally is the Three Shires Stages near Ledbury, in September. As with the Corbeau Seats Rally, I imagine the stages will be largely closed to the public; so if you want to see the action up close, as well as help it to take place at all, why not sign up? To do so, you’ll need to register as rally  marshal and do some online training. Find out more here

Author: Tony Hirst

I'm a Senior Lecturer at The Open University, with an interest in #opendata policy and practice, as well as general web tinkering...

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