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Open To Debate

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As reported recently in Karting magazine, next year’s Little Green Man Championship is under threat from the MSA’s decision to implement a rule that has existed for some time without ever previously being enforced. Dave Bewley argues that the regulation is perverse and should therefore be scrapped.

For over 500 years it’s been legally permissible to kill a Scotsman within the city walls of York, provided that he’s carrying a bow and arrow. There’s a legal requirement in several places for Englishmen to attend target practice on the village green at least one day a week. All archers doing so must be dressed in Lincoln green, although no-one may enter Parliament wearing a suit of armour. Furthermore, anyone who has the temerity to drop down dead inside the House of Commons is committing a crime. Any pregnant woman may urinate wherever she likes, even if it happens to be inside a policeman’s helmet, but no-one is permitted to eat mince pies on Christmas Day.The statute book is full of rather stupid laws that no-one has ever bothered to repeal. The passage of time doesn’t make them any less ridiculous, but no real harm is caused until someone actually tries to enforce one of them. Earlier this year the MSA attempted to implement a rule that would have caused major problems for cadet drivers on several circuits throughout Britain. As reported recently in Karting magazine, the rule states that “Championship drivers will fully integrate with the club meeting and will compete alongside the club racer. No separate races are to be run for classes already run by the host club.” I’d assumed that this rule had been quietly dropped, having found no trace of it in the 2014 MSA Yearbook. Surprisingly, though there was an attempt to enforce it just as this year’s Little Green Man Championships got underway.

After much discussion, such action was suspended for 12 months but there now seems a determination to implement the regulation in 2015. It would result in club members, even those with very little experience, suddenly racing against 60 or 70 others. They will be getting involved, as third party participants, in some rather fierce battles for LGM championship points. One or two might actually relish such an opportunity, but I suspect that other, less confident types will recoil in horror at the prospect. It is one thing allowing enthusiastic “guest” drivers to race in such a field, but quite another when reluctant participants are involved. I would have thought that the safety implications alone would be sufficient to bring about a change of heart at Motor Sports House. It’s true, as one rather unsympathetic individual pointed out, that those who don’t like the idea of racing in such company aren’t forced to turn up. Indeed, I’m sure that quite a number of cadets will actually vote with their feet. That might seem a solution for some, but what sort of crazy regulation actually seeks to discourage drivers from competing at their own club meeting? Of course there’s always the adverse effect on championship contenders to consider as well. I’d be very surprised and greatly relieved if title chances aren’t compromised at some stage by collisions involving third parties, especially as the LGM runners will be using older tyres in later rounds.

We shouldn’t assume, though, that the risks will be confined to LGM competitors. At all of these rounds there will be club championship points being contested also and top contenders could actually find themselves running in a “C” Final. At Rowrah on June 8th Mike Mills organised a poll amongst competitors. Within a couple of hours over 100 people had signed to say they opposed the regulation and there wasn’t a single signature in favour. Furthermore, the depth of feeling was equally strong amongst LGM contenders and club competitors. The list was submitted to Motor Sports House before the consultative deadline of June 13th. An MSA statement recently pointed out that the regulation had been open to consultation. We know that at least 100 expressed their objections. I wonder how many the MSA was able to find actually in favour of their approach. I don’t suppose we’ll ever be told the answer to that question.I’m still not sure what the MSA hopes to gain here. With 72 cadets having taken part this year, roughly double the number of British Championship contenders, the Little Green Man is undoubtedly Britain’s most successful Series for young drivers. Competitors clearly like the format and there are obvious benefits for hosting clubs, also, as they collect £10,000 or more in entry fees from each round without having to fork out for prizes. That’s why most clubs have welcomed the LGM with open arms. I’d hate to think that such hospitality might soon be replaced by a growing resentment amongst club competitors, who feel they are being pushed out.

If it’s not broken, why try to fix it, especially with a cack-handed rule that produces absolutely no winners but plenty of losers?One or two people might suppose that if the Little Green Man Series should disappear, then Super 1 entries would automatically increase. That’s a total fallacy in my opinion. Approximately half of the LGM contenders currently race in S1 also. There’s a further group of privateers and drivers based in small teams, for whom the costs associated with S1 would normally be a dissuading factor even if the LGM didn’t exist. The next group consists of competitors who are either too young or don’t have sufficient experience to race at British Championship level. By nurturing these drivers, the Little Green Man is actually complementing S1 rather than acting in direct competition. I’m always conscious of the fact that there are usually two sides to any argument. There may well be some persuasive logic behind the MSA’s thinking on this matter, but so far it has totally eluded me. There are those who insist that, as the regulation dates back several years now, it must be enforced for good or bad. That’s a valid point. I just hope that those who are making it won’t be eating any mince pies on Christmas Day!