25 Jan: Scroot’s Corner

The first round of the ARR Craib Scottish Championship isn’t far away now and no doubt, garages and lockups the length and breadth of the country will be hives of activity as the last nuts are tightened and fluid levels topped up.

But there is one wee hurdle betwixt Rally Prep and Rally Start – Scrutineering. Already sharpening their pencils and polishing their headlamps are members of the nation’s official wheel tappers and shooglers club, known, and cherished by all, as the MSA Scrutineers.

Apart from the usual stuff, what will these inspectors of all things greasy be looking out for in Inverness? Armed with their latest copy of the MSA bible these Technical Disciples will be there to ensure that no-one seeks an unfair advantage – or simply forgets to replace something rusty with something shiny.

So with that in mind, Jaggy spoke to the world’s top Scottish Scroots, Rab And Wullie to remind all of youse what to check before heading to Inversneckie, with a few helpful notes from myself:

This excludes ‘personal protection’ such as carrying an extra ‘spare tyre’ caused by over-indulging after Christmas:
1.3.6. Protective Padding. Where the driver’s or co driver’s bodies or crash helmets could come into
contact with the ROPS, non-flammable padding should be provided for protection

Forget Doctors’ sample bottles and wee Halfords hacksaws with a MacDonalds cola straw, you’ll need the proper gear to allow fuel samples to be taken from the rally car:
5.13.7. With the exception of cars competing in Sprint and Hill Climb road going production category, cars competing in British and MSA Titled Championships for, and all new build cars for, Rallycross, Car Racing, Special Stage Rallying, Sprints and Hill Climbs must be equipped with the facility to enable a fuel sample to be taken. For fuel injected cars the facility must be a dry break fuel sampling coupling, approved by the FIA, Competitors must carry and make available a 300mm minimum length of hose to which, where necessary, the appropriate mating part is to be attached.

Leave the wire wool and other packing materials at home, the regulations have caught up with us:
5.16.7. Exhaust catalytic converters must be fitted to all petrol engined production based saloon, touring and sports cars, including specialist production and kit cars, manufactured after 31/12/99. They may be specified for certain other formulae. Competitors are reminded of their obligation to maintain such equipment on a vehicle used on the highway where government legislation requires it.

You can’t get the wife/stay-at-home-hubby to knit seat belts or extensions to them, make sure you’ve got approved full sets:
2.1. All seat safety belts must be complete units sourced from a recognised manufacturer and fitted in accordance with the manufacturers’ instructions, MSA recommendations or FIA requirements. (See FIA Drawing Nos. 39, 40, 41 and 42.) Seat belts, in the following specified configurations, must be worn and be correctly adjusted at all times during events:
2.1.8. It is not permitted to mix parts of seat belts. Only complete sets as supplied by manufacturers are to be used.

Are you sitting comfortably? Are you sitting securely? Will you fall on your napper if the car is upside down?
2.2.1. Supports must be attached to the shell/chassis via at least 4 mounting points per seat using bolts with a minimum diameter of 8mm and counter plates, according to drawing No. K32. The minimum area of contact between support, shell/chassis and counter plate is 40 sq cm for each mounting point. In Series Production Cars manufacturers’ standard seat mounting points may be used. If quick release systems are used, they must be capable of withstanding vertical and horizontal forces of 18000N, applied non simultaneously. If rails for adjusting the seat are used, they must be those originally supplied with the homologated car or with the seat.

Remember the words to the song “My brother bill is a fireman bold; He puts out fires” – when did you last check yours?
3.1. Capacities. Extinguishers are classified as Small, Medium or Large, and designated as Hand-Held or Plumbed-In. Dry powder extinguishers are prohibited.

Most folks will have a Category 1 car (complying with Group A or N regs) but for those who have ‘specials’ the rules are much tighter e.g. MG Metros with non MG engines:

46.3. Category 2. Any car not complying with
46.2.1–46.2.4 that may be authorised for use at the discretion of the MSA including cars homologated and remaining fully compliant with FIA R/GT regulations.
48.2.7. The engine capacity of FIA R/GT cars complying with 46.3. shall be limited to the current FIA Regulations.

The rules for Historic Rally cars are very strict, but if cars have been built to period spec then they should be OK, but it’s up to those who drive them to ensure they are correct – don’t take anyone’s word for it i.e. the guy who sold it you – “Honest mister, it’s all legit”:
48.2.8. Historic Rally Cars that are fully compliant with
49 are permitted without a restriction on engine capacity in Stage Rallies.

Nobody wants to feel the trickle of fluid (water, battery acid or petrol) when upended in the seat belts, wheels spinning in the air, and going nowhere fast, so ensuring that fuel does not leak out in the event of incident is not just to stop the water table being contaminated, it’s to make sure that no-one gets burnt or scalded:
48.7.2. Cars must be fitted with a self seal connector of a type complying with J5.13. Except as provided for in J5.13.7 cars issued with a current CCLB prior to 1st January 2009 are not required to have a self seal connector.

And it goes without saying, or does it?
5.6.2. Carbon disc brakes are prohibited unless a Standard Part for that vehicle, or specifically authorised by the MSA for a class or category of car.

No big wings or roof extensions – and no running a Peugeot 205 with the tailgate open:
5.2.7. Aerodynamic devices may only be fitted to Racing and Sports Racing Cars (unless prohibited by an Approved Formula), or where specifically permitted, where FIA homologated, or where complying with National type approval.

One thing that was noticed at the Knockhill event last December was that some cars which hadn’t turned a wheel last year were presented for Scrutineering without any clear film applied to the insides of the side windows. This was sorted out on the day but competitors are reminded that this stuff needs to be applied to prevent glass shattering on impact.

Please also remember, that if you re-paint the car in a different colour scheme, you have to update the fotie in the car’s Log Book. If you do that, then you have to send the Log Book to the MSA in Englandshire for verification and that can take a week or 10 days to turn around.

And a final check. Make sure your helmets, race suits (gloves and booties), seat belts and seats are all legal and within their ‘lifing’ limits.

But you know what? Both Rab and Wullie said the level of car preparation in Scotland is very good these days, certainly much, much better than it ever was. It’s mainly the newcomers and the forgetful who fall foul of the rules, but fortunately we have some of the nicest officials in the business up here.