MSA confirms stage rally seat regulations for 2012

The Motor Sports Association (MSA) has confirmed a new regulation to take effect from 1 January 2012, governing the type of seat that is permitted within stage rally cars.

The new regulation (to be read in conjunction with R48.10.6) is as follows:

R48.10.6.1For any vehicle issued with an MSA Competition Car Log Book prior to 1st January 2009, the requirements of R48.10.6. are satisfied until 31st December 2012. This is provided that the seat(s) have previously been FIA Homologated and in addition the seats have the appropriate seat mountings in accordance with R48.10.6. Date of Implementation: 1/1/12

The effect of this new Regulation is that for the 2012 season, competitors will not be mandated to replace seats that have previously been FIA homologated.

The proposal has been circulated among members of the Rallies Committee and the Motor Sports Council in the past week and has subsequently been exceptionally approved by means of an electronic vote.

Colin Hilton, MSA Chief Executive:“This issue has generated substantial correspondence from competitors and a considerable amount of debate at Regional Association meetings in recent months. The MSA makes no apology for its commitment to improving safety within motor sport and there is complete agreement that standard production car seats have no place within stage rally cars. This new regulation will achieve that and will allow a further 12 months to consider how best we move forward in the future which, being mindful of the current economic climate and the interests of existing competitors, seems entirely sensible.

“Much of the debate has been fuelled by the absence of definitive data to indicate whether the lifing of parts by time is the best possible way of ensuring safety. We need to look carefully at the research available and perhaps commission new studies, before arriving at a conclusion that is substantiated by fact. I would like to thank everyone for their efforts in bringing this debate to a pragmatic conclusion; I believe that it is a good example of the governing body listening to its members.

“Finally, I would like to reiterate that the responsibility for the safety of a competitor lies exclusively with that competitor. The MSA reminds everyone that just because items are within their ‘life’, does not automatically make them safe. The MSA continues to advise competitors to take all possible precautions to keep themselves and others safe in the course of their motor sport activity.”

Background informationThe current regulations for a rally car issued with a Competition Car Log Book (CCLB) prior to 1/1/09 do not specify any details regarding the type of seats to be fitted other than a requirement for head restraints and that the seat should not tilt, fold or recline independently. This means that, for cars under the CCLB pre-09 regime, standard production seats, provided that they are in good order and with a serviceable locking mechanism, would be permissible.

The FIA introduced homologated seats in 1998, so homologated seats have been available for 13 years. Regulation R48.10.6 was introduced three years ago at the time of the K37 review, giving a three-year warning that by 1/1/12 all rally cars would have to be fitted with seats that hold a current FIA homologation, which would mean seats that are no more than 5 years old.

The new regulation ensures that from 1/1/12 all rally cars will be fitted with seats that are currently or have previously been homologated by the FIA, but does not mandate that seats with previous FIA homologation must be replaced by currently homologated seats.