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Caught with its pants down over the Michael Guest unlicensed driving issue, the Australian Rally Commission has decided to re-examine its ruling of August 17 which allowed an unlicensed driver to drive on a closed road special stage.

At that August meeting, ARCom ratified Bulletin B06/095 but then suspended the operation of section (d) which related to the ability of unlicensed drivers to compete on closed roads under certain circumstances if it was not prevented by civil law.

ARCom’s decision cleared the way for Guest to compete on the closed road stages in Rally South Australia despite having lost his licence for speeding. Complying with ARCom’s ruling, the Newcastle driver drove his Ford Focus on the event’s special stages but then handed the driving over to David Green on liaison sections on public roads. The matter raised the ire of the rallying community at the time as it suggested that competitors were above the law in regard to ignoring the intent of the licence cancellation – penalizing a driver for a traffic infringement. Opponents of the decision said it was sending the wrong message to the public and that CAMS were thumbing their nose by sanctioning the right of a driver to drive on public roads after a penalty was imposed by the courts.

Wishing to be seen by the public as a responsible company that conducted its motorsport within the framework of the law, Ford substituted Rick Bates as driver of the Focus in the final round of the NEC Australian Rally Championship, the NGK Rally of Melbourne, while regular driver Guest sat on the sidelines awaiting the expiry of his penalty.

According to a news item on the ARCom website, ARCom claims that the regulation separating the link between holding a civil licence and a competition licence was taken 30 years ago but acknowledges that society has changed in that time. ARCom said it believes that now is an appropriate time for the matter to be re-examined on a ‘whole of motorsport’ basis.

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