Timing and tracking return for Sweden

Autosport

The World Rally Championship will take another step back towards normal service on next month's Rally Sweden, when the vital timing and tracking services return for round two.

Long-time provider of the timing and tracking Stage 1 Technology has agreed a deal with the FIA for the Karlstad-based event. Stage 1 Technology had been unable to attend the opening round due to former WRC promoter North One Sport being placed in administration earlier this month.

Stage 1 Technology managing director Simon de Banke said: "We have an agreement in place with the FIA for Rally Sweden, and intend to sit down over the next few weeks to discuss the longer term."

In Monte Carlo, the systems were provided by a local firm, but they were criticised by the manufacturers for falling down at key times.

Ford team principal Malcolm Wilson said: "The tracking system was quite difficult [on the Monte Carlo Rally]. For example, when Jari-Matti [Latvala] went off the road, we didn't know what had happened because the system had gone down again. We'll be pleased when normal service is resumed."

The system for the WRC opener was based on a mobile telephone signal. GSM signals are notoriously patchy in the mountains, but when combined with the number of people using mobile telephones on the stages, the mobile networks were unable to cope on a local level.

The Stage 1 Technology system uses a repeater plane constantly flying at 20,000 feet above the cars. Data between all competing cars, the plane and the service park is constantly being transferred, giving the teams a complete picture of where the cars are at any given point.

The return of Stage 1 Technology also means the teams won't have to rely on stop watches and pit boards to feed mid-stage information to their drivers, with the return of split times.

"Our team has worked on the WRC and on the timing and tracking systems for over a decade," added de Banke. "So I'm delighted for them and for the championship that our usual service will be resumed in Sweden."

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