23 Jan 2015

Call for motorsport safety boost

6:20 pm on 23 January 2015

Motorsport New Zealand has been rapped on the knuckles over the death of a rally driver in 2013.

A Christchurch coroner, Richard McElrea, has told it to improve GPS systems to make rallies safer, to better monitor courses and their hazards, and to improve procedures for race marshalls during an emergency.

The case concerned a Christchurch rally driver, Kevin Royce Watson, 54, who died when his car crashed into a tree on a bend, after crossing the finishing line at Hanmer Springs.

Mr McElrea said an elderly volunteer was flung down a bank by the force of the impact, though he survived.

Two other vehicles clipped the tree during the rally.

The coroner said the race safety plan did not tell race marshalls what to do after a crash, and the organisers were unable to stop the other drivers.

President of Motorsport New Zealand Shayne Harris told Radio New Zealand the organisation had already begun rolling out GPS technology to make rallies safer by allowing real-time communication during races.

And that this would become more prevalent as the technology became more affordable.

Mr Harris said the organisation has already done its own extensive internal investigation into the tragedy and will now consider the coroner's findings.