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Old 12 Jan 2005, 08:20 (Ref:1198782)   #1
Asp
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The future of Rally Raid

After so many tragic loses in Rally Raid in a short period of time, questions are inevitably being asked about the safety of the sport. And even though what exactly caused the accidents in recent days may remain a mystery, is Rally Raid now too dangerous to continue as it is?
A key concern that many people have mentioned in interviews yesterday is the speed of the vehicles - trucks have already been limited to 150km/h - is it time to limit the cars and bikes too?
Are there other changes that could now help make the sport safer?
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Old 12 Jan 2005, 08:23 (Ref:1198785)   #2
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Originally Posted by Asp
After so many tragic loses in Rally Raid in a short period of time, questions are inevitably being asked about the safety of the sport. And even though what exactly caused the accidents in recent days may remain a mystery, is Rally Raid now too dangerous to continue as it is?
A key concern that many people have mentioned in interviews yesterday is the speed of the vehicles - trucks have already been limited to 150km/h - is it time to limit the cars and bikes too?
Are there other changes that could now help make the sport safer?
Just speculating but limits could be fixed for engines in both bikes and cars. It could be diesel engines with a three liters limit for cars and a similar limit (although I'm not an expert in the field) for bikes.
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Old 12 Jan 2005, 11:28 (Ref:1198910)   #3
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racer69 should be qualifying in the top 10 on the gridracer69 should be qualifying in the top 10 on the grid
The fatal accidents lately have been in the bikes. No speed limit is going to help you if you land the wrong way or fall the wrong way off a bike.

As for the cars, sure there have been some big accidents, but haven't they been choked enough in recent years, remember the old T3 Prototypes?

Sure it's dangerous, but thats just the nature of this brach of the sport, everyone knoews it when they enter. It's like the bike riders at the Isle of Man
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Old 12 Jan 2005, 11:32 (Ref:1198913)   #4
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The question about the safety of this sport is easily answered - it was never safe.

This reminds me of the Senna situation, when the death of a backmarker would have changed nothing about the public's perception of racing but the death of a champion was immediately followed by an outcry of "stop the madness". Had only Perez died, noone would have questioned the Dakar as such.

Should the Dakar and similar races be abolished? - I don't know.

Restrictions: this is not F1 where you just add a few chicanes. This is much more complex. A limit on overall capacity will not slow them down, only make them more expensive. They'll probably recert to single cylinder machines - are they much slower? All the KTM works bikes (I don't know about the others) already road legal so another way of possibly restricting them is out.

And: you cannot physically prevent them from going faster than a mandated speed, you can only record their speed, and punish them later. Which may be too late. In general, I believe speed limits have no place in racing; not only are they difficult to police (speed traps in the desert??) but they are also a ludicrous notion in the racing context.
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Old 12 Jan 2005, 12:23 (Ref:1198954)   #5
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To Zaniroli(Dakar's organizer), a perfect race is one in which nobody arrives.....He has overdone it and a few people in FIA have noticed that.
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Old 12 Jan 2005, 12:31 (Ref:1198960)   #6
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Yes Zaniroli seems to be a bit... - pazzo.
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Old 12 Jan 2005, 16:03 (Ref:1199093)   #7
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In general, I believe speed limits have no place in racing; not only are they difficult to police (speed traps in the desert??) but they are also a ludicrous notion in the racing context.
I would say I agree with this in principle - apart from the obvious and highly sensible speed limits through the villages.
I think though we will see some form of speed restriction soon. Meoni's death happened at low speed, so it can't directly happen from this - but the speeds people travel through the desert does become obscene (as we have already said). I'm not a mechanical expert, far from it, but I'm sure some form of mechanical restriction is possible. What speed - I don't know. But I do feel something is required.

However, the only way to limit speed (on the bikes at least) is mechanicallly through the engine. As cy said, you can't just put a chicane in, and in addition downforce and similar has no possible effect on Rally Raids.

Looking at a totally different area, could the medical provision at these events be looked into? I seem to remember there are 7 medical helicopters at the Dakar for instance - is this enough for the huge length of stages that happen? It took 20 minutes for the Doctor to reach Meoni - looking at the cause of death it is highly unlikely to have made any impact if the doctor was there immediately - but in some situations 20 minutes may be too long.
Another option - are the competitors trained in First Aid? If they are given just basic training (CPR, mouth to mouth, etc) to deal with a serious situation whilst waiting for a helicopter - in effect just to keep the person "alive" until a professional arives - could make the difference between full recovery and no recovery.
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Old 13 Jan 2005, 00:38 (Ref:1199512)   #8
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I think there is another possibility. If not for another rider coming across him, when would aid have been summoned in this case? It is a real issue if a fall leaves a rider incapacitated, alone and in need of assistance. All vehicles are tracked by GPS arenít they? For the motos they could have a cord say from wrist to handlebar, plugged in so that a signal via the GPS unit could alert race control if it was pulled out by a fall. Since falls are common there would have to be an OK button for the rider to press to advise race control there is no need for assistance. If the alert signal is not cancelled by the ok signal within say 5 minutes then the helicopter would be directed to the GPS location. To allow the rider to dismount the cord would also have to be able to be unplugged without activiation. Perhaps it would be possible to have a wireless connection to a shock sensor so that it could be determined whether the rider was moving or not after a fall.
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Old 14 Jan 2005, 06:40 (Ref:1200605)   #9
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It's a tricky problem. Maybe a "dead mans" cable like the type jetski riders use could activate the alert system. The speed issue is more difficult. The only feasible way of slowing the motorbikes without inreasing cost is either throttle stops or restrictor plates, but then you are going to make it more difficult to tackle the dunes. At the end of the day Rally Raids by thier nature are difficult. The riders, be they amateur or pro know and accept this. I think they are the only ones who can answer these questions.
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Old 14 Jan 2005, 07:50 (Ref:1200631)   #10
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Cynic - a variation on a dead man's cable is probably what I was trying to describe!
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Old 14 Jan 2005, 10:14 (Ref:1200749)   #11
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Listening to coverage in the bivouac there is a lot of support to move to 450cc bikes. They now have the speed - David Fretigne in on a 450, and we can see his performance as a marker. They have less acceleration, and a slightly lower top speed - and as a result that's why he was leading yesterday up to CP2, then fell back down to 2nd at the end.
However, one major advantage is their weight - as they are lighter they are less strenous to ride, and easier to pick up after a fall. This helps fight fatigue on the stages.

The problem is how to impliment a change. It would be grossly unfair for the FIA or the ASO to impose a rule like this for next year, as amateur riders would be unable to use an existing bike. Maybe it'll take the influence of a major manufacturer - if KTM do decide to compete next year, and develop a 450 machine for the race and their works teams, it would only be a matter of time before 450s become the dominant machine in the rally.
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Old 14 Jan 2005, 11:48 (Ref:1200825)   #12
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I think our generation has an unhealthy obsession about safety. There are some things that cannot be rendered "safe" for the benchmark Unsupervised Toddler, and ought to be left alone, and Rally Raid is one of these things.

As a former motorcycle rider, I was taught that a motorcycle is the safest vehicle on the road until it hits something or is hit by something. Then you are virtually certain to be severely injured or killed. I am certain that the people who join the Dakar have been thoroughly versed in the dangers and as well prepared as they can be -- it is their own lives on the line and anyone who would join the game would make sure they had the best possible chance of coming out the other end.

I say leave it alone, and may the best man or woman win. I don't want a "virtual Dakar".
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