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A number of regulation changes have been made for next year’s Rally Tasmania in an attempt to make the rally safer for competitors.

The all-tarmac rally, which will be held out of Burnie in Tasmania’s north in February will, for the first time, have a maximum speed limit introduced.

According to the event organisers, MSR Corporate, cars will be limited to a terminal speed of 190km/h, which should allow for more stage distance, and different stage configurations.

“This is something that we’ve been working at introducing for some time,” MSR Corporate’s Geoff Becker said today. “We will fit GPS boxes to some cars, and set up targeted radar sections on certain parts of the course to ensure that all competitors comply with the new ruling.

“Of course we have had some competitors who are not happy with the new rule, as some believe it will suit other cars more than their own, but that is something we are happy to live with,” he said.

Other rule changes included for the 2008 event are that all cars must be fitted with either five or six-point safety harnesses, and that open-top cars will not be permitted to start the event.

“Cars must have closed roofs and at least ‘Type 3’ roll cages fitted,” Becker added.

However, Becker and fellow MSR Corporate director, Les Walkden, stressed that the accident at the recent Mt Buller Sprint that killed co-driver Paul Flintoft in an open top car was not the catalyst for introducing the ‘no open top cars’ rule.

“MSR Corporate Executive has had concerns regarding open top cars competing in road rallies for some time, and this was a ruling that we have been looking at for a while,” Becker stressed. “The Mt Buller accident was tragic, but it was not the reason we introduced this rule, and should not be seen as a knee-jerk reaction by Rally Tasmania organisers.”

Also of major consideration to Rally Tasmania organisers was a coronial inquiry into the death of Ian ‘Henry’ Lawson in the 2004 event. The coroner suggested a number of changes to the running of the rally, and MSR Corporate are determined to ensure that all future Rally Tasmania events are as safe as possible.

The introduction of the new harnesses rulings is because of the findings of the coronial inquiry from the Lawson accident, and ARCom has also adopted this position.

To be held from February 15 to 17 next year, 2008 will be the 28th running of Rally Tasmania. Next year’s rally will again be filmed and featured on Network 10, and has already attracted 57 entries, including former winner Jim Richards in a Porsche, former Targa Tasmania winner Jason White, and 2007 Classic Adelaide winner Kevin Weeks – both in Lamborghinis.

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