It’s the toughest endurance motorsport in the Asia-Pacific region. Australasian Safari is Australia’s ultimate off-road adventure through the remote, rugged and stunningly beautiful landscape of Western Australia. But if a competitor comes off, race organisers need to know immediately where the rider is in order to take emergency action.
When you tackle Australia’s version of ‘Paris to Dakar’, how much gear you carry matters. However, user reluctance was overcome literally within the first few days of deploying Motorola Solutions’ MOTOTRBO two-way radios. In the early stages of the race, a motorcyclist had a serious accident and activated the duress button. Using embedded GPS positioning a helicopter was deployed within six minutes. Under the previous communications system, the rider would have lain with a broken leg for more than an hour.
Justin Hunt, director of specialist motorsport event company Justin Hunt Management, said he was almost overcome with emotion to see the system work ‘technically perfectly’ for just the situation for which it was designed.
Previous races had utilised a manual radio system with airborne repeaters, and competitor location was tracked by officials, a system which was slow, cumbersome and relied heavily on manual data.
In contrast, Hunt explains that the new system is more efficient, effective, and dramatically increases competitor safety:
“With staggered starts over four hours, the approximately 100 competitors are very spread out, so it’s like managing a busy airport. Now we can tell where any competitor is at any time, and they’re always contactable.”
“The biggest thing here is the isolation, so response times are crucial. Motorola Solutions’ system has reduced response times to better than world standards for motorsports. It also provides peace of mind for the competitors as well, because they can see that we are good operators using modern technology,” says Hunt.
Durability is also critical when riding at more than 150 kilometres per hour through the bush. The management team need to know that the radios can survive a crash. And not to mention resistance to dust, which permeates everything!
Australasian Safari’s communications experts have been working with the Motorola Solutions Rentals team for almost 10 years, developing a deep mutual understanding that leads to improvement wherever possible. Using Motorola Solutions’ network and trunking, just one person with two computers and two radios can manage the command post for the whole event. The data is overlaid onto a mapping system so that the command post operator views all vehicles on a screen, and can watch the event unfold. Much of the management is now automated and the system easily handles large amounts of data.
“This is one of the most isolated motorsport events in the world, so it’s fantastic to be able to sit back and watch on the mapping screen, knowing everyone is OK. The network and radio system has taken out a lot of the risks – it has really revolutionised this event,” concludes Hunt.