UPDATE Motorsport Australia Harness Requirements

29 January 2024 / David Lawler

Update 30th January 2024: The Motorsport Australia changes to harness requirements that are discussed below in the news item from 2 days ago, have been reversed by them today following representations over the last few months from a number of clubs, including the MX-5 Club and other interested parties.
As a result, the MX-5 Club will continue to run events under Motorsport Australia permits in 2024, and so there will be no changes to licencing or vehicle scrutineering requirements for competitors at club track day and motorkhana events in 2024.

In this news item I will explain an issue resulting from a Motorsport Australia change to harness requirements for MX-5s at club track days, the impact of that change, and the potential actions that the club may take.
This issue or it's consequences may affect all drivers who participate in our club track days or motorkhanas.
First, a quick description of the harness issue for those who don't know about it yet
A few years ago Motorsport Australia (MA) changed their "Schedule I" regulation document so that road registered non-closed cars could no longer participate in club level speed events, such as our MX-5 Club track days, without using a 3 or 4 point harness. A lap sash belt was no longer sufficient. This change potentially affected all road registered MX-5s at our club track days. Other MA rules meant that at a minimum, a race seat and a harness/roll bar would also be required along with the harness, creating a huge barrier to track day newcomers or those who don't want to make that sort of commitment to motor sport, or modifications to their road cars.
The NSW and Vic/Tas MX-5 clubs only learned of this change in late 2023, and it has started being enforced at events in 2024.
For your reference, the 2024 MA Schedule I regs for harnesses and window nets:
Change by MA to definition of closed car for 2024
The MA technical definition of a closed car has changed for 2024, so that in my opinion an NC PRHT, ND RF or NA/NB/NC with a factory removable hardtop would now qualify as a "closed" car. Hence, those MX-5 models/configurations are not longer subject to the MA Schedule I requirement for a 3 or 4 point harness to be used at speed events.
For details and to form your own opinion of which MX-5s are "closed", see the section "Bodywork/Coachwork" in the 2024 MA technical definitions:
Impact of the new closed car definition on MX-5 motorsport participants
The changed closed car definition is good news for the drivers of an MX-5 PRHT/RF/hardtop who want to do club track days in their road car without having to do substantial modifications, as they can continue driving at those events using a lap sash belt if they wish to do so.
The ongoing issue
However, nothing has changed for MX-5 soft tops. They are still classed as "not closed" cars and so based on the Schedule I harness requirements that had been changed by MA, drivers of such soft tops are now required to have a 3 or 4 point harness and hence also a race seat and harness/roll bar etc, to run at a club track day.
Potential roll back of harness change by MA
I heard a rumour a few days ago that MA will imminently be updating their harness requirements in Schedule I to roll back the changes that have caused this issue. As of today, Sunday 28th Jan, that roll back has not been announced by MA on their website, nor have the relevant regulation documents been updated.
The MX-5 Club plan
We have club track and motorkhana events scheduled over the next few months and typically have to apply for the required permits at least 6 weeks before those events. Unless the roll back by MA of their harness requirements happens in the next week, the MX-5 Club will be switching to AASA permits for our 2024 club track day and motorkhana events
If we do switch, the impact will be minimal for club track day and club motorkhana drivers, and you will be able to continue using your current MA competition licence at our club events until it expires when you then obtain a AASA licence. The primary downside is that those club members who want to drive at club events and also at other events run under MA rules, such as state supersprints or team regularities, will in the long term need to hold both a AASA and a MA licence.
I will post another news item some time in the next week when either a relevant announcement is made by MA, or the MX-5 Club starts the switch to AASA for our 2024 events.