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Deaths prompt 'hard reset' of tarmac rallying in Australia

Tarmac rallying will undergo a 'hard reset' in Australia based on the latest findings from Motorsport Australia's Targa Review Panel.

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The panel recently completed a comprehensive review of the crash that claimed the life of competitor Anthony Seymour at Targa Tasmania last year.

The fatality was the fourth across two editions of the famous event and followed a number of changes made off the back of the tragic 2021 running that saw three competitors killed in two seperate crashes.

This latest report features a list of 94 recommendations that Motorsport Australia has agreed to implement in full.

Among the recommendations is that stages be graded as either Category A or Category B, with only the former allowed as full competition stages.

Even then, average speeds should stay below 132 km/h and terminal speed below 200 km/h.

There will be more on-stage markers for black spots and previous crash sites, while all cars will need to be fitted with judicial cameras.

National championships across multiple events will be banned and an international licence will be required for full competition classes, with a demerit point system for speeding breaches and crashes.

No cars with performance parameters higher than the FIA R5 rally rules will be allowed, with open cars also set to be banned.

No full competition tarmac rallies will take place until July 1 this year as the changes are implemented.

Targa Tasmania has already been postponed to October.

“I’d like to thank the members of the Targa Review Panel – Garry Connelly, Matt Selley and Neal Bates – for their hard work and dedication in researching, preparing and ultimately delivering this report,” said Motorsport Australia CEO Eugene Arocca.

“Today’s release of the Targa Review Panel’s report is the first step in the return of Targa style tarmac rallies in Australia. Motorsport Australia is committed to seeing these events return later this year, with 1 July 2023 being the initial date set to allow for the recommendations to be implemented.

“The 94 recommendations cover many facets of the discipline and will aim to improve the overall safety of Targa style tarmac rallies.

“Ultimately, it is now time for a hard reset of tarmac rallying in Australia to improve safety standards across various parts of the discipline.

“Having the right vehicles being driven by appropriately-licenced drivers will be a key part of these recommendations being implemented, along with appropriate course selection by event organisers in conjunction with Motorsport Australia.

“If we don’t implement these changes, there would be a significant cost to the motorsport community, particularly through the risk of further fatalities or serious incidents and also through increased insurance premiums which would impact every competitor in motorsport, not just those in tarmac rallies.

“We’ve worked closely with the key event organisers of tarmac rallying in Australia, including TARGA Australia, and they have all been consulted throughout the process. Indeed, they have told us they agree with many of the recommendations.

“All members of the motorsport community were also invited to submit their feedback and ideas to improve the discipline. The panel received almost 100 written submissions, all of which were carefully examined and considered by the panel and many of the recommendations have come directly from those submissions. This included feedback from various competitor groups and committees who are passionate about the sport returning in a safe manner.

“Our administration will now work closely with the Australian Rally Commission [ARCom] to implement these recommendations and see the return of Targa style tarmac rallies in the second half of 2023.”

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