Safety at motorsport events across Scotland is to be reviewed in the wake of the weekend’s rally tragedy and a series of injuries at a recent motorbike competition in Moray.
The Scottish Government announced yesterday that it was commissioning an inquiry following the deaths of three spectators during the Jim Clark Rally in the Scottish Borders on Saturday afternoon.
The review could also examine what went wrong at a moto-cross event at Elgin’s Woodside track last month when six riders and two race marshals were taken to hospital with broken bones.
Its safety record is already the subject of a review by one of the sport’s governing bodies.
Moray MSP Richard Lochhead welcomed the national move last night, as did Brian Fraser, chairman of the Grampian Moto-cross club, who said local organisers had “nothing to hide”.
Mr Lochhead said it was “absolutely right” to review safety for the peace of mind of everyone involved.
“Moray has several motorsport events that attract a lot of support and those involved will be aware of the dangers,” he said.
“I know the organisers review and improve safety systems regularly and I think getting a further independent review will complement that process.
“Recent incidents, and especially the very sad deaths of spectators at the Jim Clark Rally, have brought a focus on motorsport event safety.
“I think it is absolutely right to review the systems in place when incidents like this happen.
“It will be important to allow the review to be completed before drawing firm conclusions on what safety improvements may be able to be made,” he added.
“It is also important to remember that motorsport can be dangerous – as can many other sports for both participants and spectators.”
The review, announced yesterday by Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, is planned to take place over the next four weeks.
It will include the police, event organisers, the Motor Sports Association and others, and will look at the training and deployment of stewards as well as all other safety controls.
The two race marshals at the Elgin event were injured after they ran onto the track to help a rider who crashed out during a practice lap.
The pair were hit by a second rider who was unable to take preventative action.
The biker was travelling at between 50-70 mph and was still in mid-air, having just gone over a jump.
Mr Fraser welcomed the review last night.
“We have absolutely nothing to hide,” he said.
“The event is well organised. Last month’s meeting was just a freak one-off.
“I’ve been involved with the sport for 12 years and been chairman of the club for the past two. During all that time, I’ve never known so many injuries at one meeting.”
Following last month’s meeting, the Motorcross Federation – one of four organisations that oversees the sport in the UK – also announced it would be carrying out a review of track safety in Elgin.
Announcing the new inquiry, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said: “In the light of the weekend deaths the Scottish Government will commission a review of motor sport event safety in Scotland, drawing on safety experts and the knowledge and expertise of the motor sport community.”