20 Nov: Wales Rally GB – An apology

Wales Rally GB National Timing – a statement from International Motor Sports Ltd …

International Motor Sports Ltd. who organise Wales Rally GB have issued a letter of apology to all of the national entries for the delay in delivering the final results to last weekend’s event. IMS will be calling on the FIA to initiate a formal investigation into the performance of the official WRC timing system, following reports that the management system deployed by the FIA’s appointed supplier was apparently hacked during the last week’s otherwise highly successful finale to the 2013 world championship.

Andrew Coe, Chief Executive of Wales Rally GB organisers IMS, will be asking for an investigation to establish what went wrong: “We’re very disappointed, not least for our national competitors. We’re running a major sporting event and failures like this, whatever the cause, tend to be blamed on the event. But this is absolutely not the fault of Wales Rally GB. We are required to use and pay for the full costs of the Championship system. We are of the view that the system has features, particularly in relation to vehicle tracking, which represent a step forward for our sport.”

“However, if, as has been reported, the system has been subject to a hacking attack, which is not unusual during major sporting events, then it is vital that the provider ensures that every possible security measure and safeguard is put in place to avoid this situation happening again in the future. For the moment we are still awaiting a formal explanation, or apology, for what went wrong.”

Editorial Comment:

A successful event starts with planning which is one of the reasons our governing body is so insistent on Safety Plans, Risk Management, Child Safety Officers, Environment Protection, Anti-Spill kits, Rally Route PR, Noise Checks, vehicle scrutineering and all the rest of it. And with all this going on it’s easy to see where mistakes or slip-ups can be made, especially since the vast majority of rallies are organised by amateurs doing it in their spare time.

It is for that reason we expect so much more of the professionals. They set the standard to which the rest of us aspire. So when they get it wrong, it’s not just the fact that it makes the rest of us feel smug, but it let the sport down in the eyes of a wider public.

On that basis if ‘hacking attacks’ are not unusual on major sporting events, then that is all the more reason to have a back up results system in place. Such eventualities should have been considered at the pre-event planning stage. And not just in case of ‘hacking’, but suppose the comms link had gone down, or an electrical power cut had shut down the computers. There could be any number of reasons for a glitch in the system.

Or is that just a sign of the times? Are we now so reliant on technology that we cannot function without batteries, a charger, mobile phone and wi-fi?

I’m glad IMS has issued an apology to the National competitors, but next time an amateur event organising team slip-up I just hope the MSA remembers that it can happen to anyone – MSA Stewards take note please!