Playing it by the book...

DAKAR RALLY 2009 - Matthais Feltz - MMSP’s on-event legal representative

Former WRC co-driver and practising lawyer, Matthias Feltz (Germany), is Team Repsol Mitsubishi Ralliart’s legal representative and the person tasked with looking after all aspects of regulations, homologation legalities, contracts and disputes for the Dakar Rally team.

When Hiroshi Masuoka (Japan) and Pascal Maimon (France) suffered serious delays on the opening leg between Buenos Aires and Santa Rosa de la Pampa, Feltz’s task was to find out the potential impact on the team in terms of time penalties and restarting positions for the crew if the technical problem could be rectified.

"Our team were unlucky to have a problem so early with Hiroshi’s car. My job was to find out how to bring him back into the competition when repairs were made.

"I had to find out the maximum stage time, which is eight hours. Then, if he could not get out of the stage within those eight hours, there was a fixed penalty of an additional two hours and I was told by the ASO that there would be a further 15 minutes’ penalties per passage control, whilst the car was being towed by the truck and then a further penalty in the final control.

"The regulations also have a special Article 12.4 that states for safety reasons it is possible to demand of a competitor – so long as it is brought in before 22.00hrs in the evening – that he be brought in front of the other competing cars for safety reasons if he has been a front-runner in the race and that he can be moved up the restarting list the following day.

"This was my job here yesterday after I had navigated one of the support vehicles out of Buenos Aires. Unfortunately it was not possible for him (Masuoka) to continue. In some ways my work was in vain yesterday, because we were not able to restart the car from the technical side."