Jackie Stewart to advise on rally safety review

MOTOR-RACING legend Sir Jackie Stewart is to give expert advice to the Scottish Government’s review of motorsport, set up to examine safety after the loss of life at the Jim Clark Rally last month.

Sir Jackie Stewart. Picture: TSPL
Sir Jackie Stewart. Picture: TSPL
Sir Jackie Stewart. Picture: TSPL

The former Formula One world champion has spent much of his life fighting for improved safety at motorsport events.

Sir Jackie, 75, began his campaign after witnessing the deaths of fellow competitors including Scot and world champion Clark, who died at Hockenheim, Germany, in 1968.

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Last month, three spectators – Iain Provan, 64, his partner Elizabeth Allan, 63, and Len Stern, 71 – died during the Borders rally held in Clark’s memory. They were killed when a rally car left the road on the Swinton section of the race held in the Duns and Kelso areas of the Borders.

Shortly afterwards, justice secretary Kenny MacAskill announced a major review of ­motorsport safety.

Yesterday, ministers confirmed the remit and membership of the review, which will focus on spectator safety at all types of motorsport races, events and competitions, including bike races, kart and car ­rallies.

Sir Jackie will provide expert input based on his direct experience of improving motorsport safety.

Ministers have asked for interim recommendations prior to the Isle of Mull rally on 10-12 October, with final recommendations by December.

Cabinet secretary for sport Shona Robison said: “The review of motorsport event safety is critical to make sure we learn lessons and never again have to witness the tragic events of last month.

“Sir Jackie has a distinguished record of improving safety for drivers in Formula One, so I am very pleased that he has agreed to share his experience.”

The review, chaired by the Scottish Government, will involve representatives of various bodies in an expert group, including the Motor Sports Association, Scottish Auto Cycle Union, Police Scotland, Scottish Borders Council, the Health and Safety Executive and the clerk of the course for the Isle of Mull Rally 2014.

A safety and driver representative are also being sought.

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As well as winning the F1 championship three times, Sir Jackie is credited with making a huge contribution to the sport’s safety. Among his close friends also killed pursuing the sport were Piers Courage, Jochen Rindt and his Tyrrell team-mate François Cevert.

Their deaths led Sir Jackie to embark on a crusade to improve the sport’s safety record.

Although it met with much opposition at the time, his contribution is regarded as having saved countless lives.

Sir Jackie’s involvement in the review was welcomed by the Liberal Democrat MSP Jim Hume, who said: “Sir Jackie commands respect across the world for his leading role in modernising Formula One safety and I fully support his involvement and this review.

“Motorsports such as rallying have long enjoyed a loyal following in Scotland. The tragedy at last month’s Jim Clark Rally must never be repeated.

“Whilst the many rallies which take place in Scotland every year are a success, safety in motorsport and the framework around it is a continuous journey. It is paramount this review finds a way to remedy the safety issues identified.”