A Rally Stage is the section of the roads that are closed to the public for the rally competitors to compete upon. Roads can be closed in Jersey under the appropriate legislation, which in this case dates back to the holding of the International Road Races in the 1950’s, and the consent of the Connetables. Timing is used on a Rally Stage and at the end of the competition it is the quickest time that dictates the winners. At the start of the stage, each competing car is given a “stage start” time and at the finish a “stage finish” time. The times are recorded electronically and this is fed back to Rally HQ to be uploaded to the live timing system.
The event is run by experienced and licensed motorsport organisers under the rules and regulation of Motorsport UK, the sport’s governing body.
The first “modern” Jersey Rally was held in 1983 when John Morgan and Roger Evans from Wales won in a Vauxhall Chevette HSR. However car rallies had taken place in Jersey many years previously when they were more akin to navigational tests or cross countries (through tracks and farms).
The road closure times on the Friday and Saturday of the Jersey Rally are currently being agreed with all relevant parties. The format is for a pair of stages to daytime require road closures for Friday and then separately for the evening. On Saturday the format is also two pairs of stages – the “morning” stages and then the “afternoon” stages. The Rally organisers will be appointing appoint a Residents Liaison Officer for the duration of the event.
Ford Escorts in some form have won the Jersey Rally more than any other marque and model – and, in fact, Ford are the best represented marque amongst the entries for the 2022 Roberts Garage Jersey Rally. Peugeot’s have always been popular as well, including the amazing Peugeot Maxi of Chris West/Rob Hannah which won in 2019. 4 wheel drive cars have won the Jersey Rally on 12 occasions – against 27 wins for 2 wheel drive cars. There has only been one win by a front wheel car – the Peugeot Maxi 306.
The Jersey Rally tends to run over two alternate year formats, in order to avoid closing the same roads each year. Before the rally, all the stages are subject to risk assessment for safety by experienced rally organisers and appropriate protection is built into the safety plan. The closed roads are also filmed as a record prior to the event. An inspection of each stage takes place immediately after the rally to ensure that any damage is properly recorded and can be addressed.
For all incidents, the rally will engage its own emergency and medical teams (who include doctors, paramedics, medics etc). All incidents are taken extremely seriously as a major safety concern.
A number of cars travel on the closed road “stages” in advance of the competitors in the rally cars themselves. This is required in order to ensure that the special stages which are used for the competitive element are both safe and correctly set up. These vehicles are all known as “Safety Cars” and the crew in each of them is licensed and has experience as motor sport officials. Each vehicle has a slightly different role to play within the rally organisation.
This is the first vehicle. It officially “closes” the road for the rally in accordance with the official time for the roads to be closed. Public traffic will not be able to travel on the road, without the permission and under the guidance of the event.
This is the next vehicle – again well before the first rally car for each running of the stage. The crew will be checking to ensure that the marshals and any spectators are all stood in safe locations and, if they are not, then this crew will request that the move to a safer position. At the same time, this vehicle will check that the stage has been set up in compliance with Motorsport UK regulations.
Motorsport UK, the governing body for motorsport in the UK, appoint a Safety Delegate whose role is to ensure that the event complies with the safety requirements of the governing body. The Safety Delegate will be driven through each stage before the first rally car and ahead of each specific running of the stage. Until he is satisfied that the road is safe, sufficiently manned by registered motorsport marshals, and fully complies with the safety plan the competition cannot commence.
Following the Motorsport UK Safety Delegate is the 00 car who makes any adjustments requested by the Delegate, including asking any spectators that may have moved into an unsafe position. This and all the preceding cars are road cars, sometimes 4×4’s, and they have the appropriate equipment to undertake their roles.
This is the final car in the pre- competition safety and inspection responsibilities. This will be a “rally car” with all the relevant – motorsport safety equipment including roll cage, fire extinguish and cut off equipment. This car drives through the stages at approximately 70% of competitive speed and the experienced driver and co-driver provide a final check of each stage. In addition, as this is a rally car and the crew are in overalls, helmets, etc they provide an “alert” to marshals and spectators that the rally itself will be competing through the stage imminently.
This car enters each stage after the final competitor has completed their run. Its role is to ensure that every rally car that started the stage has been accounted for and that any that have stopped have received assistance, confirmed if they are continuing or not and that then the stage is clear for the next run through it.