PEACE OF MIND RACING IN ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP Off road racing in South Africa will take a major step forward this season with the introduction into the Absa Off Road Championship of a technologically sophisticated live tracking ...
PEACE OF MIND RACING IN ABSA OFF ROAD CHAMPIONSHIP
Off road racing in South Africa will take a major step forward this season with the introduction into the Absa Off Road Championship of a technologically sophisticated live tracking system.
Motorsport South Africa Off Road Car Racing Commission president Piet Swanepoel said the system had been introduced in the interests of safety. With the introduction of the system operated by Garmin, the biggest Global Positioning System (GPS) manufacturer in the world, and backing from Motorite Insurance Administrators, sponsors of the successful Motorite Racing Team, South African off road racing is at the forefront of international safety technology.
"There are other major spin offs, but safety was our biggest consideration in joining forces with Garmin," said Swanepoel. "By its nature off road racing takes competitors into remote areas where keeping track of them is almost impossible.
"Crews also get lost and if anyone has an accident off the course it could take hours for word to filter through to race officials."
Swanepoel said the Garmin system, via a transponder fitted to each vehicle, would allow race officials to keep track of all competitors out on the route at 10 to 15 second intervals. Race officials would be able to monitor positions, speeds and other safety factors.
"Competitors will also have a panic button that can be used to summon instant help," said Swanepoel. "We have been investigating the introduction of the system for two years, and peace of mind racing has been the major motivation."
Swanepoel added that the system also had benefits for spectators. All cellular telephones are GPS linked and the system would supply spectators with route and other information.
The system is also linked to Google Earth. This makes it possible for anyone with a desktop computer or laptop to follow a race from start to finish.
"The only downside of the system is cost," said Swanepoel. "We have been fortunate, however, in that Motorite Insurance Administrators has joined Absa, Ford, Nissan and Toyota as a partner in the championship.
"Motorite will be sponsoring the system and without their help we would not be able to go ahead with what is a major innovation in the sport. We are on a par with Formula One when it comes to race safety, and there is now peace of mind racing for competitors and their families, officials and enthusiasts."