Competitors in this year’s Manx Grand Prix and Classic TT are dismayed about 11th hour regulations which will cost them more money.
Following a risk assessment triggered by the two pit lane fires at this year’s TT races, riders’ pit crews have been told they must wear approved fire resistant clothing, which some feared would cost hundreds of pounds more.
Gary Thompson, of the ACU, and TT clerk of the course, said he had received letters from the Health and Safety Executive and the Office of Fair Trading demanding changes to improve safety.
‘What we can do is take reasonable steps to ensure the risk of injury is reduced for those in proximity,’ he said.
‘I think if we spoke to the mechanic concerned who was injured by one of the bike fires, he would also have a tendency to agree.’
Crews are already required to wear fire-retardant overalls in the pit lane area and in the holding area before a race but Mr Thompson said often ‘lip service’ had been paid to this with people using cheaper welders’ standard overalls rather than the full racing specification clothing.
Now pit attendants doing refuelling will need race standard fireproof overalls, balaclavas, goggles and gloves. A concession has been made for this year only, meaning other pit crew need only meet the old standard enforced last year.
The new requirements prompted concern from competitors worried about cost, (on top of fuel, tyres and ferry crossings) and about sourcing the items with only weeks to go. There was also confusion over the precise specification to be met.
Manx Motor Cycle Club chairman Harvey Garton said he appreciated it was a blow to teams but he could see no way round it. ‘I know teams will be gutted by it and it’s really unfortunate,’ he said.
Mr Garton added the eventual aim was to introduce a ‘dry break’ fuelling system to replace the current fillers which continue to flow briefly after the trigger is released. Such a system would mean no fuel could escape unless there was a connection to the bike’s fuel tank.
Mr Thompson said in many cases in the past overalls costing £20 were used and these were not acceptable for fuel delivery. He said the changes would improve safety for all pit crew.