When Marc Butler lost control of his car during the Rally of the Heartland in June, he knew he could do nothing but hope the safety devices did their job.
Thankfully for Butler, they did just that – meaning he is alive to tell his story.
In a fast section during a rally, Butler lost control of his car heading intoa blind turn. He hoped a large field would cushion the impact of the crash.
Unfortunately for Butler and his co- driver, as their Honda Civic left the road the rally car landed on a fence post, piercing the vehicle body and sending the car rolling across the field.
It was a freak accident and one that Butler and co-driver Peter Sims were lucky to walk away from, with Butler suffering fractures in his neck and spine.
Thankfully, Butler was wearing a HANS device, (a Frontal Head Restraint system) as well as having winged seats, with both playing a key role in preventing him from sustaining more damage than he already did.
“I do believe if I didn’t have the winged seat and frontal head restraint, that my neck would have been severely broken and I’d be more than likely to have long term injuries,” Butler explained.
“I was aware that the Hans device was important but I wasn’t quite aware of how much the wings on the seat would have a positive impact on the outcome with the type of crash I was in.”
For Butler, competing without these safety features was never an option.
“I think definitely it was a personal choice for me to run with the Hans device and a wing seat a number of years ago,” Butler added.
“Despite the FHR only being brought in as compulsory for our level last year, I‘ve been wearing the device
or something similar since I started rallying in Australia about eight years ago.
“As soon as the Hans device became available, and it was reasonable to purchase, I bought it along with a new helmet because to me, the safety aspect is huge.”
Now in a neck brace for up to six weeks and a three to six month recovery underway, Butler has time to process the accident and research as to how both safety features assisted him.
“It was a combination of both measures are important that to safe driving.”
The Frontal Head Restraints (FHR) are now mandatory in state and national level rallies and will be compulsory in Multi Club level events from 1 January 2019 and Club level events from 1 January 2020.
When Marc Butler set off that morning for day two of the Rally of the Heartland in June, he had no idea how grateful he would be for the safety devices he had decided to use.