NASA Rally Sport test of the 'Red Flag Rule' was successful at Hardwood Rally!
NASA Rally Sport tested out a new "Red Flag Rule" during this year's running of the Central UP Hardwood Rally. This rule change has been in development this year as a way to increase competitor safety while also keeping more racers in the rally instead of DNF (Did Not Finish). This was inspired by a trip a few of our senior volunteers took this year to the Rally of Nations Guanajuato where a similar process was used by the FIA.
"This rule minimizes the time that our safety sweep vehicle spends stationary with competitors who are stuck or having a minor mechanical so that they (sweep) can keep up with competitors who are still at speed on course." This is an improvement in safety over the usual practice where sweep may offer to give a competitor a quick tow to get them moving again and avoid a DNF. In the past this is sometimes a hard decision for sweep crews because their primary role requires them to maintain reasonable follow distance behind other competitors. With Red Flag, all sweep needs to do is check in on the competitors and mark their time card with the red flag for that stage. Sweep can then move on and the competitor can wait for Heavy Sweep to assist them without incurring a DNF for the event.
If heavy sweep can get the competitor moving in a short time they can transit (not race) to the end of the stage ahead of them and usually get back into action in the next stage. The competitor is awarded a stage time per the NRS regulations for a halted stage and given a penalty, however they are still scored for the event.
This rule worked well at Hardwood Rally where the Red Flag procedure was used 7 times and even prevented the Eastern Regional NRS Director Perry Seaman from a DNF for the event. "We had fuel pump trouble and were red flagged by sweep. We were able to sort it out and transit out ahead of Heavy Sweep. It was great not to have a DNF on our record and we even ended up with an event trophy for the effort!" - Perry Seaman.
After the successful test run of the new rule at Hardwood, this change is in review for incorporation in the NRS General Regulations for Rallies.
You can read the Hardwood Red Flag Bulletin here.