Seat Life-extension from Motorsport UK – what does it deliver?
So, yesterday (8/3/21), MSUK made the following announcement:
“Competition Seats: One Year Regulation Freeze”
Lots of wow’s as MSUK announced an extension to seats driven by the Pandemic. So we’ll look at the detail….
The applicable Regulations are N126.96.36.199 (Rallycross) and R48.10.6 (Rallying), and the extension applies specifically as follows:
Seats with an original homologation label detailing a manufacture date during 2013, which may be used for up to 8 years from the date on that original homologation label;
Seats with a ‘Not Valid After’ date (on the original homologation label) of 2019, which may be used until 31st December 2022.
So what does this mean? Well, first we need to look at the labelling used.
There are 3 types of labels for FIA standard 8855-1999:
Those with a Month & Year of Manufacture
Those with a Year of Manufacture
Those which state “Not Valid After”
Labels marked with a Month of manufacture were valid for 5 years from the end of Month of Manufacture. So a seat made in February 2013 was originally valid until the end of February 2018. These seats effectively got 5 seasons of use (2013, ’14, ’15, ’16, ‘17)
Labels marked with only a year of manufacture were valid for 5 years from the end of the year of manufacture. So a seat made in February 2013 with one of these labels was valid until the end of December 2018. Effectively you got 6 seasons of competition (2013, ’14, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18). This simple change gave some seats this extra season – but those made in December wouldn’t have any gain.
To avoid confusion, the FIA moved to a “Not valid after” label. I believe this was at the start of 2014. So the same seat made in February 2014 would say “Not valid after 2019”. Effectively you get 6 seasons out of this seat (2014, ’15, ’16, ’17, ’18, ‘19). A seat made in December of the same year – you get 5 seasons out of it.
In late 2018, MSUK gave all seats of the 8855-1999 standard an extra 2 year extension for national events. Some seats that were out of date actually became back in-date! So, our 3 seats:
Valid until the end of Feb 2018 -> Now valid until the end of Feb 2020
Valid until the end of 2018 -> Now valid until the end of 2020
“Not valid after 2019” -> Now valid until the end of 2021
Motorsport UK’s announcement detailing a Manufacture date in 2013 can now be used for up to 8 years from the date on the label. So:
Manufactured Feb 2013 -> Valid until the end of Feb 2021.
Manufactured 2013 -> Valid until the end of 2021
Our third seat, made in 2014 (which stated “Not Valid after 2019”) – these are covered by the 2nd rule, now valid until the end of 2022.
If you have a seat made in 2015 – they will say “Not valid after 2020” – these get the original 2 extra years (Not valid after 2022), but no further extension. The same for all later seats.
So, why do I think MSUK introduced this rule?
I’m going to put a different slant on things - seats are different shapes to suit different competitors. Ideally they need to be tried by the competitor to ensure they fit an individual and then they also need to fit the car. (This is why here at Clubman Motorsport we have prioritized getting seats into our showroom.)
Since Christmas, most retailers (including ourselves) have had to close their showrooms as they are not classified as “Essential Stores”. As such, its difficult for competitors to try seats.
What Motorsport UK have done by introducing these rules is avoid competitors from having to buy seats without trying them. It also allows them the time to consider what to do next – they have the opportunity to allow seats after 2013 to have the extension at a later point in time. They need to make an immediate decision on seats due to expire now.
So, what about seats to standard 8862-2009? No 2 year extension?
These seats originally had a 10 year lifespan. They currently have a retail price between £3,000 and £10,000 – they are designed for the highest levels of motorsport.
What about harnesses?
I believe Motorsport UK want to move all competitors to the new -2018 standard. These harnesses are the ones which are given an additional 5 year life for MSUK national events. This new standard is much harder to achieve than the older standard – from what I understand the webbing is much stronger than the metal components – if they are involved in an accident that will damage the harness, it is more likely to be visible if the metal components bend first.
As a rule, if your harness says it is “Not valid after “ and a date before 2021 – it has expired.
At Clubman Motorsport we currently sell the new standard of harnesses from just £135 for harnesses made by TRS. Whilst these last 11 seasons, at the end of this time they are still likely to be worth money to drivers who do not need dated equipment (Eg. Track day cars) – typically a good harness will still be worth £50. So, a harness has cost £85 for 11 seasons of competing…
What about extinguishers?
Extinguishers need to be serviced every 2 years to keep them in top condition. As part of the service of the AFFF extinguishers we change the fluid. Just because your car hasn’t been competing doesn’t mean the fluid hasn’t been degrading – this is why they still need to be serviced. (I expect office extinguishers have still been serviced this year, even if no-one has been in the office)
And what about standard 8855-2021?
Well, I’ve just checked the FIA website and I cannot find any list of seats approved to the new standard. I also cannot find any test houses capable of testing to the new standard. There are test houses listed for the other approvals.
To put this into context, when they introduced the Harness approval (8853-2016) the first harness to be approved were accepted in October and only 7 harnesses were approved by the end of that year.
Do we expect a wide range to be available? I’ll let you be the judge!
And what is hiding?
Reading through the actual standard for 8855-2021, it appears that the Seat Mountings will also have to be part of the seat approval. Let me give you some examples of seat specific costs at the moment:
Sparco ADV-SCX: £230*
OMP HTE One XL: £339*
OMP HTC One: £1,171*
(* Prices taken from a major online retailer 9/3/21)
In comparison - Clubman Motorsport Generic prices:
So what are we doing to support the club competitor?
I guess now is a great time to announce that we have just agreed to list Atech Competition seats in our showroom. I believe we will be the only retailer in England to have these on display. Our new stock is on its way and will be ready (With the rest of the range of seats in our store) to try as soon as we can open.
I hope you find this guide useful – please do feedback any comments.
MSUK Stage Rally Licenced Clerk of the Course & Competitor.