Grand Prix stars will have to consider more comprehensive body armour that includes back protection for the 2016 FIM Motocross World Championship with the governing body set to ratify fresh rules and regulations in an effort to improve safety.
“We had a request from the teams – which is probably a bit strange for people to understand – but the factory crews were asking us to enforce the wearing of body protection,” explains FIM CMS President Tony Skillington. “When we looked into our rules in more detail we saw that the guidelines for ‘roost protection’ was a very old term. It did not encompass full body armour as it should do.”
“Going back to last year at Maggiora and the serious accident to Joel Roelants a lot of people have become very aware of the need to enforce body armour wear,” he continued. “I have said that this year we would organise the rules and come up with a wording that would basically tell riders that it was mandatory. It [body armour] is commercially available and the type and choice is up to the rider; what is presented for public sale they have to wear. That is our idea right now and all I have heard is positive responses to it.”
“It needs to be done and has needed to be done for a long time,” the Irishman adds. “We’ve had people say “for medical reasons I cannot wear one” – what kind of medical reason do you need?! It is a ‘must’ and especially for the next generation. Those kids who are looking at riders that tend to show off their bodies quite regularly to those TV cameras. We must take the lead and I guess it is a bit unsavoury for some people but one rule fits all, wear it and get on with it.”
The current FIM rulebook states for Equipment and Protective Clothing: ‘The rider and passenger must wear trousers and gloves of durable material. Riders only must wear knee-length boots of leather or an equivalent material must be worn. In order to prevent abrasions in an accident, the arms of riders and passengers must be entirely covered by a protective garment of a suitable material.’
There is a further line under the Supermoto sub-section saying: ‘A chest-protector and/or with additional back protection is highly recommended.’ Expect these lines to change significantly for 2016 and then be enforced as part of a check by FIM and event officials before each active session at Grand Prix. “In the waiting zone and the Sky Box every week we have people checking that the bikes used are the ones that have been scrutinised and with that check it is quite easy to look and tap on the chest and back that someone is wearing it,” says Skillington. “It’ll be in the rulebook for next season so no misunderstanding.”
It is also rumoured that the FIM will be looking carefully into the treatment and recovery period for concussions and head injuries with perhaps stipulated recuperation times or stringent tests put in place.