Rally New Zealand director Chris Carr has praised the World Rally Championship's safety tracking system for the quick discovery of the fire which engulfed Ramona Karlsson's Mitsubishi Lancer on the Auckland event last week.
The Swede and her co-driver Miriam Walfridsson were forced to bale out of the Lancer while it was still moving as the car caught fire. The crew were unable to deploy their own safety system, but the next car through the stage pushed the button and alerted rally control immediately to the problem.
In the wake of the FIA's decision to seek a further £80,000 from individual rallies to fund, among other things, Stage One Technology's safety tracking and timing systems, the subject was a hot topic in Auckland and Carr said it proved itself a sound investment.
"We have a back-up tracking system on the rally," said Carr, "but that relies on the cars being seen every five kilometres. If we'd been relying on that system, it would have taken longer to get the safety helicopter out to Ramona's car. It would have been minutes to register that we hadn't seen the car and then to trace it back. With the Stage One system, the next car hit the switch and we were able to direct the chopper straight there.
"By the time the girls picked themselves up off the floor, the safety helicopter was above them and we could then alert the emergency services. Anything could have happened in a minute or two and I simply can't put a dollar value on having that system in place."