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'Fun and jollity watching sport ended in the blackest, bleakest of days'

THE tragic incident at the Jim Clark Rally will, understandably, reignite calls from certain sections of the public for rallying to be banned.

While that is unlikely to happen, it will strengthen calls for even greater safety measures to be taken in terms of marshalling spectators and removing them from potentially dangerous situations.

The reality though is that motorsport is a dangerous sport, both for competitors and spectators.

No one can question the trauma and the intense emotions the distraught relatives of the dead and injured are now going through. Their pain, and loss, is incalculable.

A day's fun and jollity watching sport that their loved ones enjoyed ended in the blackest, bleakest of days.

And yet, the reality is that, in attending any motorsport event spectators are — though they may laugh off the reality of the situation with enthusiastic bravado — putting their lives in a potentially deadly situation.

While the crews in the rally cars are surrounded by a phalanx of safety equipment, spectators — especially in rallying — have no more protection than a wooden fence, feeble hedge, and the clothes they're wearing.

I'm not going to get into a debate about the rights and wrongs of motorsport, and spectators' access: that's for other, more qualified and official individuals.

Without question though, Saturday's incident was hellish.

There are few other words to describe what unfolded at the side of what is a normally peaceful, quiet Borders country lane more usually frequented by tractors and local folks going about their normal, routine daily business.

The incident has potential major repercussions for rallying, and motorsport in general not just in Scotland, but across the whole of the UK.

Where the detailed and meticulous Police Scotland investigations will lead, no one at this moment knows.

What we do know is that today there are families who woke up yesterday morning facing the reality that their loved ones, who walked out of the door on Saturday to watch the sport they loved, never returned.

And that, in anyone's language, is tragic beyond words.

Jim McGill is one of Scotland's leading motorsport journalists and contributes to The Herald's motoring supplement.

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