In response to requests for a guide to what our events are all about, I will attempt to provide enough information to tempt you along to an event to get your wheels muddy. Above all else, and this really is the most important bit, we are there to have fun. I guess the editorial and event reports elsewhere will bear testimony to the fact that we like to have a laugh.
All our off road events are run under the auspices of a permit issued by the Motor Sports Association (MSA) – that gives us the license to run an event, so long as we play by their rules. We are also a member club of the Association of Land Rover Clubs (ALRC), and they issue their rules that sit below the MSA rules in terms of authority, so we comply with these as well. To clarify a little, the MSA only recognise a trial as an ‘Off Road Trial’, but the ALRC subdivide this to Road Taxed Trial and Cross Country Vehicle Trial. At club level we also publish the ‘SR’s’ (Supplementary Regulations) which specify the vehicle classes, what happens if the event is cancelled and all the other event specific information that we need to have in place. The event competition secretary will always have copies of the MSA rule book, ALRC year book, event permit and supplementary regs at the event (just in case you want to look at them).
When you turn up to an event (whatever the status) you will ‘sign on’. This is where you sign to say you have read the rules (the MSA, ALRC and SR’s) and that you will abide by them. The process of a bona fide club member signing on is to invoke the MSA insurance that covers the event.
After signing on you will have your vehicle inspected for safety by the scrutineer, and that is another subject for a later issue. He will sign your card to say that you meet the minimum requirements, not that your vehicle is safe. The scrutineer can fail you, but will give you the opportunity to correct the fault, and at most of our events if you miss the first section(s) we let you catch up. Details of what is covered by scrutineering are covered in the ALRC yearbook.
All this officialdom could get out of hand, but it is there to protect the club, its officials and members. There are many clubs that don’t run under any form of permit – if anything goes wrong it could get expensive for all involved.
So, to the events themselves. There are 5 main types of event, in order of difficulty they are Tyro, RTV, CCV, ‘winch’ and comp safari. I will give you an overview of each if these in the following sections.
Tyro: Contrary to popular belief this does not stand for ‘Tip Your Rover Over’ trials. Tyro is Latin for novice, and so this is the novices’ trial. That’s the original thinking anyway, but it has evolved into being a trial for clean shiny factory standard vehicles complete with road tyres, side steps, tow hitches and spoilers.
The regulations are quite strict on what you can or can’t drive in these trials, side slopes are kept to a minimum, climbs and descents are limited in length and steepness, and water is to be no deeper than the tyre, that is you shouldn’t get the rim wet. That is not to say the trial is easy by any means. You will still face the thinking and difficulty of a RTV, but against terrain that will not damage the vehicle (unless you go completely off the course).
Passengers can be carried from the age of two in a forward facing seat with proper seat belts. The trial is aimed much more at the family end of trialling, and is generally good fun.
We run these events depending on availability of land and peoples time. We set out the sections (usually 8) and then run them the same as all the other trials.
RTV: Road Taxed Vehicle Trial, as the name suggests is for vehicles that are road legal. In the spirit of the regulations you shoud drive your vehicle to and from the event (and be road legal both ways!). Over the years the RTV’s have got harder as some RTV drivers demand more. In response to this some clubs run Family Vehicle Trials (FVT) which is a half way house between a Tyro and RTV.
The RTV should be non-damaging if driven properly, although to see some competitors vehicles this is hard to believe. But, because there is always a but, some of our sites are not friendly to nice body work due to the fact they are wooded sites and it’s a well known fact that trees are harder than Land Rovers.
In the events listing care should be taken at sites such as Dersingham, where the low branches can easily damage roofs or the trees have a habit of jumping out to be in the middle of the front bumper.
You can carry one passenger/navigator in an RTV provided they are a club member and are 14 years or older.
CCV: Stands for Cross Country Vehicle. These are equipped with roll cages and are normally not road legal so are towed to each event. This is basically a harder course than that driven by the RTV drivers, and there is every risk that you might bend the odd bumper or panel on every outing. Harsh, but fun.
BLRC run combined RTV and CCV events, using slightly different routes for each class (we make the CCV drivers do the silly bits for the entertainment of the RTV drivers). We do this because we do not have enough officials or people willing to set out to run completely separate events. It works well enough, so we will continue for now.
Winch: Not actually a recognised title of an event type, but it was all I could think of. BLRC don’t run a winch recovery event at the moment, but who knows what the future may bring. There are the commercial events like the Bulldog Trophy that pit man and machine against all manner of difficulties. These are basically team events where the key component is the winch. If this takes your fancy you will probably have a winch, and if you’ve gone that far you probably know more than me.
Comp Safari: A speed event for the clinically insane!! The name is derived for the leisurely pursuit of the safari drive, but done competitively… The rules and regs for these go on some, but they are great events. We run around 5 of theses per year at BLRC because we want to give the competitive Members something to aspire to. The entry fee is more expensive for these events due to the amount of equipment and personnel involved.
So there we have it, a quick run down of the main events. The only other information you need is a who’s who of the main officials and their tasks:
Competition Secretary: is responsible for ensuring all the paperwork is in place, checking eligibility of entrants and the like. When you sign on, you will normally do so with the Comp Sec, and he will issue your score card for the day once you have passed scrutineering. At our events it is often this poor sod who has to do all the score keeping as well.
Scruitineer: is a friendly form of vehicle inspectorate. Your vehicle will be checked prior to the event, and at any other time during the event if deemed necessary (after you’ve tipped your Rover over for example). If your vehicle is deemed ‘unsafe’ or ‘unsuitable’ (infringement of the published rules or similar) the scrutineer will fail your entry. If the failure is on marginal safety grounds you may appeal to the Clerk of the Course (CoC) or if an eligibility failure you can appeal to the Comp Sec or CoC for a decision. It’s not often, however, that the decision of the Scrutineer is overruled. That’s why we have him.
Clerk of the Course: is a lot more than chief stick planter. This person, with helpers, will have set out the trial, usually driven the course (or supervised it being driven) and be satisfied that it is safe for the entry list (this is why we like you to pre-book for a trial). During the trial the CoC will ensure the event is running safely and will direct the chief marshal as to what is required for each section.
Chief Marshal: has the task of managing the general marshals who watch to maintain safety and to check for vehicles scoring points. These people also ‘manage’ the spectators to ensure they are not in a place of danger when a section is live.
Start Marshal: At our events is responsible for getting competitors onto the start line in good time (so usually has to do a lot of shouting). He will then tell them when to start when the other marshals have confirmed the course is clear.
Recovery Marshal: is a position that we appoint (not strictly an MSA requirement) to manage the recovery of stuck vehicles. He will be the one doing the shouting to direct operations, not actually driving the recovery vehicle. He will co-opt people to help and direct everyone else to keep well out of the way to ensure that a recovery is carried out effectively, safely and speedily.
Steward: should be somebody independent of the other roles. The steward is the final authority on all matters concerning the event from scrutineering to scoring. If you have any difficulty accepting a decision of one of the other officials this is who you come to see. Minor grievances will be dealt with immediately but if it is a formal complaint the rules of the MSA will kick in and the complaint must be submitted in writing with a monetary fee that is only returned if the complaint is up held. Luckily at BLRC we have never had to put this rule into action.
Because we don’t have that many people acting as officials on the day we often have to double up on the roles. Life would be so much easier if there were hundreds of volunteers, but there aren’t. Basically, if you get a request from an Official – do it, because you can’t be sure which official role they are in.
The MSA rule book is issued to anyone that holds a MSA competition license and within BLRC the scruitineer, secretary and competition secretary all have copies. The ALRC year book is free to all BLRC members.
That’s about it for our club events. I plan to add further details of event arrangements for Tyros, RTVs & CCVs with respect to the rules, requirements and scoring and eventually details for current vehicle regulations and scrutineering issues.
The Small Print
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