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It’s all too easy to ignore the notes that a co-driver reels off during a pacenoted rally but as has been the case lately, a driver ignores the notes at his peril.

Taking a huge leap off the road in a rally car has been a common enough occurrence over the years, with many co-drivers paying the price of their driver’s over-exuberance – broken ribs, broken seats and broken suspension have become common casualties on far too many occasions.

We saw it first hand during the recent Rally of Canberra when Peter Jerie launched into orbit at the Mineshaft, his VR4 crashing out of the event against a concrete barrier at the foot of the precipice. Fortunately both Jerie and co-driver Tristan Kent escaped almost unscathed, but luck was on their side.

What prompted this article was a story in the weekly English motorsport newspaper, Motorsport News (pictured), about a competitor, Barry Johnson, who ended up in hospital after a world record-shattering jump in his WRC Impreza on the tarmac Jim Clark International Rally several weeks ago.

According to Johnson, the car was on the rev limiter at the time, ‘probably doing 137 mph (220 kmh)’. Spectators say the car was up to 3.6 metres in the air, and landed about 60 metres from where it took off.

Both Johnson and his co-driver were winded when the Impreza hit the ground, and Johnson suffered three broken vertebrae which necessitated a trip to hospital. As for the car, well, all the shockers burst when it landed and all the oil escaped, catching fire. The crew were lucky to get out with so few injuries.

It wasn’t the first big rally leap and it certainly won’t be the last, but such accidents should never happen on pace-noted events. Both driver and navigator will have driven the roads before and therefore should be aware of the hazards and slow down accordingly.

Perhaps it’s just a case of drivers pushing the envelope – (“Let’s see if we can get away with a faster approach”), but ignoring a known hazard is a recipe for disaster – and a sore backside.


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