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The Junior Trials Vehicle (JTV) was launched at the Autosport International Show in Birmingham, where a prototype was displayed on the MSA stand.

The JTV is the result of two years` work by the Off Road Committee of the Motor Sports Council, who wanted a formula to introduce young competitors to trialling.

Their objectives include safety, low cost and accessibility. Various options were considered, from building bespoke vehicles to adapting off-road karts, before the Committee was shown pictures of a modified Toro Lawn Tractor built by Kevin Mizen for his son Oliver.

Choosing a lawn tractor as the base vehicle ensures a vast choice of new and used machines and parts, a stable platform (due to its low centre of gravity) and a low maximum speed. Modifications will be strictly limited and mainly for safety, to make preparation of a JTV affordable and simple.

The JTV displayed in Birmingham was only a concept vehicle; the final specification may differ significantly. However, it has been agreed that the new vehicle will be based on a single-cylinder lawn tractor with manual transmission.

No tuning or de-restricting of the engine will be allowed. The front axle will be free (but must use the original mountings), but the chassis will remain unmodified. A full rollcage, head restraint and full safety harness will be mandatory.

The MSA will develop the JTV during 2002, with regulations finalised for 2003. Two JTVs will be taken to rounds of this year`s British Off Road Championship and other events, where potential competitors will be able to have a go.

MSA Chief Executive Colin Hilton said: ”The new formula enormously increases the range of disciplines which can benefit from attracting very young competitors. Until now, only kart racing and dragsters have been available for eight-year-olds; JTV offers youngsters a chance to develop the skills needed not only for trialling, but for every form of off road driving, including rallying.

”We look forward to running JTV events in 2003. Meanwhile, we hope that as many prospective competitors, parents, organisers and manufacturers will come and see the prototypes in action during the next few months, so that final regulations can be introduced with a minimum of unnecessary amendments.”