MRA Speed Rally Championship 2014 Round 1 in February

Wednesday, 29 January 2014 00:00 -     - {{hitsCtrl.values.hits}}

MRA and speed rallying The Motor Racing Association (MRA) is one of the few motor sports clubs in the country that is actively conducting events at the national level annually. The MRA, as it is known more commonly amongst motor sports enthusiasts in Sri Lanka, is a name synonymous with speed rallying as it is also the club that pioneered this form of the sport in Sri Lanka over a decade ago. Sharing a bit about speed rallying, it is the same form of rallying that is seen on the World Rally Cross circuit. This tells how tough an event this is and the skill and courage it takes for a rally team to just participate. Even in Sri Lanka, its super cars that take to the gravel and we have some superb drivers who even run in regional WRC rally stages such as in Thailand and India. The aim of MRA is to see that one day soon an international leg will be held in Sri Lanka. Most people are surprised that Sri Lanka has this form of the sport, as not many have actually seen these events take place. Nonetheless, speed rallying is nothing new to the people of areas such as Pelwatte off Buttala, Sevenagala off Embilipitiya, Kukuleganga off Mathugama and Kantale off Trincomalee. For these are venues the MRA has plotted its rallies, setting high standards for our drivers to be able to become competitive in the regional circuits. Motor sport made skilful and safe A common misconception is that motor sports is recreation for the rich and nothing more. However, once you get to know some of the leading racing drivers, one soon realises that it certainly is a sport of immense skill and hard work. Once you are on the racing circuits, you are driving amongst the best and every second counts. The drivers soon transform into motor mechanics to push for extra horse-power from engines that are kept standard within classes. Racing is certainly not about spending heavily on the most powerful machine and leaving the rest of the pack in a cloud of dust. Motor sports is dangerous and spectators watch them at their own risk, is a commonly seen message around race circuits and this is true. Just like most other sports, motor racing too has its safety issues. It is for this reason that clubs and associations exist under a governing body both at National and International level. The safety regulations governing the sport run into a whole book. It is the role of the MRA to provide for racing opportunities for those motor sports enthusiasts so that they can indulge in the sport with safety as a priority. This is where the mechanic must find his horsepower from within the limitations imposed by regulation against “souping-up” engines for and endless madness of speed and power. Under events sanctioned by the governing body, every aspect of safety is looked at, from competitors to spectators, so that lives are protected from the common adversities that are perceived with such sport. Soon the driver is challenged to work on his machine to get an edge of a matter of a few seconds. Now it is possible to understand why in the most popularly followed F1 circuit, the winners are just a few seconds apart after running for around 50 laps. That’s how close the sport has become in challenging man vs man on machines that have been made similar by regulations and speeds controlled from being excessive. Nonetheless, the speeds these drivers maintain are still at the edge and Sri Lanka too is not far behind in driving skills when it comes to rallying. Almost every new driver’s tendency when behind the wheel for the first time is to put the gas pedal to the metal so to speak. This is the human instinct to conquer speed. Surely enough many of us learn that speed must be managed, because we come across an experience of what speed can do if not controlled. Some unfortunately do not learn this in time and it’s too late when all goes wrong for them. For clubs involved in this sport, the key aim is to take motor racing off the streets and into controlled and safe circuits so that the motor enthusiast is not a danger to himself and the public. Motor sports is for all By now it is clear that sanctioned motor sports events are planned to keep racing safe as well as open to all types of people from all walks for life. Motor racing has been open to even tuk-tuks and this demonstrates that even Sri Lanka’s largest road user is included. Even as spectators, all stratums and demographics of society enjoy this sport. It is clearly for all to watch or drive and enjoy. Even in rallying, competitors can enter into different classes depending on the power of their machines. This is to ensure that the race is man vs man and now-a-days many ladies too have been driving alongside the men, taking away the men’s exclusive club status. New rally format for newcomers For the first time in Sri Lanka the MRA will conduct a new format of a Speed TSD rally so that new comers can make an entrance to this tough and challenging race in the dirt. It’s time to step out of street racing and get on a real track where its driver against the clock. The MRA will conduct this part of the event under tight controls and yet offer these drivers a challenge which will not be easy to meet. It will be made to be a real test of driving no matter what the vehicle is and may the best win. MRA will also give advice and assistance to these newcomers to make their entrance easier. TSD in rallying is a term used as short for Time-Speed-Distance. This is where driving teams consisting of a driver and co-driver will vie for honours along a predetermined route and keeping to predetermined speeds along the entire route. Keeping even to 20km per hour can be a challenge along certain routes and that is the basis of rallying. The co-driver in TSD is the pacer who keeps the driver to time as well as on the correct route. In this event for the new comers, the TSD will not be about finding the way as they will have the opportunity to take a look at the route beforehand. Then the challenge will be keeping to the times and speeds given. Along the entire route, there will be marshals known as passage control to watch and not if any drivers are exceeding the maximum speeds given for each section and that is how new comers to this event will  be kept safe, whilst they will be allowed to speed up on sections where speed is possible. There will be a maximum speed ceiling throughout the event so no one is challenged to get beyond capable limits. This is a great opportunity for new entrants to take to this sport especially with MRA coming forward with such an event as well as providing the necessary assistance. Anybody with a valid driving license and road worthy car is welcome. The whole idea is to race if you like on terrain that makes a real difference. Pelwatte Speed Rally The first ever FIA standard speed rally was conducted at this venue and the event has been continued over the last decade and become known to be one of the most challenging gravel circuits to rally on. In fact, Sri Lanka’s speed rally record has been established twice on this very circuit, which goes to show that it surely is the fastest rally circuit in the country with the current record set at 104 km per hour average speed for a special stage. All toughened rally drivers come here to take a shot at this and success will come from perfect conditions mainly one of which is the right weather. Pelwatte has seen vey soggy rallies from torrential tropical down pours to very hot and dry conditions that are physically hard to endure. Getting into a racing suit complete with helmet and all that safety gear inside a closed car for just 20 minutes can be like a whole day of sweating at the gym. The Pelwatte Rally is set for 15 and 16 February with the Recce scheduled for 14 February. The Recce is where all driver and co-driver teams will check the route and make their own notes that will eventually give them the edge over the rest. They will all plan their little secret techniques and manoeuvres to save those valuable seconds. MRA Rally Championship 2014 The MRA rally championship is held annually with three rallies to decide on an overall champion and this is part of the National Racing Championship as well. Being a MRA Rally Champion is equal to being the National Rally Champion as this is the only event series that awards this honour to a truly tested individual with guts and glory. The MRA event calendar has three rallies planned for 2014 as well to look for who will reign supreme in this year’s fight for top dog in Sri Lanka’s arena of the rally king.