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More than 2,500 people have responded to an initiative set up by the Motor Sports Association, the governing body of UK motor sport, to train and register as a rally marshal. The campaign arises directly from a recent report by the Rally Safety Study Group and forms a major part of the MSA`s plans to raise standards and to minimise risks to rally spectators.

"While we must accept that there will always be some danger in a sport such as rallying, there are significant ways in which we can limit the risk," explains Colin Hilton, MSA Chief Executive. "We reconvened the Rally Safety Study Group following several serious accidents during the 2001 season culminating in Carlos Sainz`s widely reported incident on the Network Q Rally of Great Britain. The proposals put forward by the Group were comprehensive and, as this initiative shows, we are determined to instigate the recommendations as swiftly as possible."

To meet this objective, 14 training evenings were set up at venues throughout the UK aimed at giving marshals a broad grounding in some of the basics including personal safety, spectator control and first aid. Led by Stuart Turner (former head of European Motor Sport at Ford) and Allan Dean-Lewis (Head of Training and Development at the MSA), these events have been a huge success with many of the evenings heavily oversubscribed. The popularity of the MSA`s programme has forced the organisers either to find larger venues or to split some training sessions into two separate sittings. With one presentation remaining - scheduled for the Channel Islands in early September - the MSA is delighted with the overwhelming response.

"We had hoped to attract a total of around 1,000 but we have achieved nearly two and a half times that number," reports Dean-Lewis. "Now we are expecting the vast majority of these to join the official MSA National Rally Register which will not only encourage them to undertake further training and thus graduate to higher grades but will also, for the first time, provide us with an invaluable database. The setting up of this centralised register will provide us with direct lines of communication to those marshalling on UK rallies and that, together with the training and grading systems, is another important step forward."

To maintain the impetus, all those registering by 30 September will be eligible for a range of exclusive prizes including invitations to attend test sessions from the four UK-based works World Rally Championship teams: Ford, Hyundai, Mitsubishi and Subaru.