Not sure who remembers it, but just before Xmas 2016 we got a story about how a ruling on off-road insurance might mean the end for motorsport. As I remember the back story was that a Slovenian farm worker driving a tractor had accidentally knocked someone else off a ladder, causing serious injury and the ensuing battle for costs and compensation was made more difficult because there is no requirement for off-road riders or drivers to have third party insurance. Someone in the European Court of justice decided that this was a bad idea (because it plainly is) and suggested that anyone riding or driving a vehicle off road must have cover.
Extrapolate this outwards a few layers and you get to motorsport, which might be a long way from a clumsy tractor driver, but could still hypothetically come under the same ruling. And would also be a very good thing because, at the grass-roots level most club racers have jobs to go to on Monday and getting caught up in someone else’s accident could have dramatic consequences if you need some time off work to recover.
It wouldn’t be too hard to include basic third party cover in the cost of a race licence, but the situation would be a bit more difficult for track days (and without track days most European circuits would be bankrupt in weeks) because each rider would have to arrange their own insurance before the day and, while that would be fine for the riders who do several days a year, chances are that the occasional track day riders would be put off.
And it’d make professional racing very interesting. Think back to that incident between Rossi and Marquez at Sepang a couple of years back. Or when Iannone took out team mate Doviziso at the last corner in Argentina. Will we see racers swapping insurance details in the gravel or one team putting in a claim for their injured rider and broken fairings? Does this mean a rider only gets signed in future if their no claims discount is acceptably good?
So the logical extension of this ruling isn’t that motorsport gets banned, but that it gets much more polite. Sensible riders, wearing Day-Glo Sam Browne belts, using their mirrors properly and indicating in plenty of time before making a well-timed, IAM-approved overtake.
In the post-race press conference riders will say nothing in case it affects their chances of a claim and everyone will have to fill in a form after the race and draw a diagram of the incident in order that the underwriters can make a judgement on who should be world champion.
Some will say that this will make racing boring, but in truth, it can’t be any worse than World Superbike currently is. And ironically, the only event that will survive this unscathed will be the IoM TT which is a time trial, not a race on public roads and so, unaffected by the directive (probably). So the actual outcome of this legislation might be a return to the TT format on new circuits across the world. The Death Valley TT will be amazing, as will the Provence race held in the Ardeche gorge and finally, the British round of Moto GP can finally be run on the Hawes/Settle/Skipton triangle in the Yorkshire Dales, where we all know it should have been all along.
I can’t wait.