Rally and cross country recovery is one of the motorsport safety services that is licensed by Motorsport UK.  The licensing procedure applies to the actual recovery unit and the crew members.

Your first step towards becoming a license holder is to apply for a trainee licence and then to contact an existing unit operator to act as a mentor to guide you through your training period. They will also be able to help with choice of equipment when you start your own unit.

A license application form, which must be endorsed by your mentor, can be downloaded from Motorsport UK Web Motorsport UK licence application

Although the outlay for the basic equipment is not too expensive, all operators, from experience, carry far in excess of the list. The biggest expense will be the vehicle and winch. As some of the cars you will be expected to recover will weigh a considerable amount, added to the extreme terrain you may be recovering them from, it follows that the vehicle you choose for your recovery unit must be of sufficient size and weight to counteract any forces you will be using.

The most popular vehicle amongst our members is one of the Land Rover makes, i.e. 90, 110, Discovery, Range Rover etc. although we do have some specialist units such as an American Chevrolet Recovery Unit and a Unimog both with spec lifts.

There are two categories of Recovery Unit – Light and Heavy. The vehicle, which must be a 4X4, and equipment requirement for both categories is the same, the difference is the facility to provide a lift and tow [also known as suspended tow] for the casualties.  The most common units for providing this service is the towed or vehicle mounted Harvey Frost crane and a vehicle mounted spec lift unit.

The recommended training period is for a minimum of one year with a requirement to take an assessment within two years. During this period you will be expected to attend three training days, a marshals training day where rally radio procedure and fire fighting is covered and two recognised Motorsport UK approved recovery training days. Also, you will be required to attend six events as a recovery operative and gain attendance signatures from event officials.  With the limited seating in most units it is acceptable to use your vehicle and shadow the stage licenced unit

Whilst there is no requirement for recovery personnel to hold a first aid certificate it is strongly recommended that you do so.  Your remit does not cover medical duties but there are going to be times when you are the first on scene after an incident and of course the very nature of what we do is inherently dangerous.

When you have reached a level of competency and with the support of your mentor you will be asked to attend an assessment where you will recovery a car under simulated event conditions. A recognised Motorsport UK assessor who is experienced in all aspects of rally recovery will carry this out.

Your event remit will be to recover the casualties back onto the stage and to a point where the service crew can collect it, in most cases this will be the start or end of the stage, which can be up to 10 miles away.

Motorsport UK Requirements

Section S
1.6 – Rally / Off-Road Recovery Unit
1.6.1 – Purpose

  • To provide for the recovery of vehicles only

1.6.2  – Types of Vehicle

  • Light Recovery – four wheel drive, 2 ton winch
  • Heavy Recovery – four wheel drive, 2 ton winch, and rear jib

1.6.3 – Identification

  • Clearly marked ‘RECOVERY’ and carrying yellow flashing beacon

1.6.4 – Crew

  • The crew will consist of a minimum of two licenced operators at least one of whom must hold a full licence.

Section S

2.1   Crew Requirements – System of Acceptance and Upgrading

2.1.3 – Rally /Off Road Recovery

Acceptance for Training

  • Gain endorsement of Crew Chief on existing recovery Unit.
  • Attend one approved rally Training day including radio procedure and fire training within two years of acceptance.
  • Minimum age 18

Trainee Period and Requirements

  • Hold a trainee licence.
  • Collect six signatures from Crew Chief or Rally Official and attend two approved recovery training days, all within two years.

Licence Acceptance

  • Attend approved Motorsport UK Recovery Licence assessment.
  • Demonstrate to assessor full familiarity and competence in the operation of all equipment.

Maintenance of Licence

  • Attend and pass three yearly assessments.
  • Satisfy Crew Chief that training attendance’s and updates have been completed between assessments.

Recovery Unit Equipment


  • Yellow Beacon
  • Radio           Race 169.3375MHz FM      Rally 81.575MHz AM
  • Personal Protective Equipment for each crew member
  • 1 x 20lb [9Kg] dry powder fire extinguisher
  • 1 x 2 gallon [9Ltr] light water / AFFF fire extinguisher
  • Survival blankets
  • 1 Warning Triangle
  • Vehicle powered portable lighting and torches
  • Suitable cutters for harnesses, straps etc


  • Hacksaws and a supply of blades
  • 1 Bow saw
  • 1 1m Crowbar
  • 1 pair bolt croppers
  • 1 set of metric spanners [open ended and ring] or set of metric combination spanners
  • Hammers Large and small
  • Ropes [min 4m, 1500Kg SWL]
  • 1 Spade
  • Selection of Cold Chisels / Bolster chisels
  • Selection of coupling hardware
  • Equipment suitable for securing / stabilising and towing vehicles


  • Basic First Aid Kit      – in compliance with requirements for 11-20 employees as detailed by HSE Code of Practice [ACOP 1997]
  • A supply of burns dressings [including ‘watergel’ type dressings] which should include unusedclean plastic bags
  • A sterile solution for eye irrigation
  •  Selection of splints
  • Report cards

It is strongly recommended that some devise is carried which allows the operator to perform resuscitation whilst isolated from the casualty’s oral secretions.

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