Eye in sky for HK-Beijing Rally

PUBLISHED : Wednesday, 20 October, 1993, 12:00am
UPDATED : Wednesday, 20 October, 1993, 12:00am

THE latest in satellite technology will be used to correlate daily results as the 37 competitors in the 555 Hong Kong to Beijing Rally race through six Chinese provinces and 3,800 kilometres, beginning on Saturday.

Event organisers will tap into the International Maritime Satellite Services (Inmarsat) orbiting station via nine portable terminals, six of which will be mounted in support vehicles shadowing the rally.

It is the first time the satellite is being used in a long-distance rally through such remote areas of China.

Five of the car-mounted terminals will be allocated to teams who will be stationed at the end of each special stage along the rally route. The time of each competitor will be sent to the Timing Control Centre at rally headquarters in Beijing via Inmarsat.

The results will be fed into a computer in Beijing and relayed back via satellite to the next rally stage. Placings from the previous stage determine the starting order the following day. The results will also be distributed world-wide by the event's press office.

The sixth car-mounted terminal will be assigned to the recovery team, who will follow the rally and provide support for any damaged vehicles. Their reports will also be sent to Beijing via Inmarsat.

Rally clerk of the course Jim Porter will have a terminal with an added voice facility for direct communications with Beijing.

Another terminal will be based in Beijing to receive the transmissions from the special stage teams.

Rally manager Willard Martin, who has worked on the New Zealand Rally for the past 11 years, described the satellite communications as better than most such facilities available on the World Rally Championship circuit.

The rally begins on Saturday afternoon with a 1.8-kilometre super-special stage at Honey Lake resort in Shenzen.