Parc Ferme is an area where crews or other team members cannot drive, check or otherwise work on the car. Parc Fermé is the French translation of ‘Closed Park’.
Typically Parc Ferme is where the cars park outside of stage runs or services. It is a secure area of the service park with tight regulations and access control. Crews are only permitted to enter the area to collect and leave the car. They ensure fair competition by controlling the limits for servicing and repairs to the car. They also allows the scrutineers to do smaller technical checks with all the cars together.
As Parc Fermes are great opportunities to show the machines they are often in a prominent position in the service park.
Parc Ferme Conditions
There are other times in a rally where the same rules of Parc Ferme apply. These are known referred to as being under Parc Ferme Conditions. There are two parts of a special stage where crews cannot work on the car. One is between checking into a stage and after clearing the start line area. Another is between the flying finish and stop line.
In these cases the reason is to allow the rally organisers and time controllers to continue running like clockwork for all competitors. Changing a wheel on the startline for example will hinder the starts of the subsequent cars and disrupt the itinerary. Crews must make sure the car is ready to go before checking in. Otherwise they will have to stop in the stage under the clock. In fact, crews cannot even get out of the car in this time. It may explain why drivers are keen to end a stop line interview. If a repair is urgent they need to move a bit further up the road.
There are other points at which Parc Ferme conditions apply such as passage controls or refuel zones. The reason here is the same, to allow those officials to do their job.
In a regroup situation such as before a Power Stage, the regroup is mainly for the benefit of television timing and not intended to interrupt the flow of the rally. As always there may be exceptions made by application or by the rules of the individual rally.
Note that until the car has been released from Parc Ferme by the technical officials, a winning crew haven’t technically won. Article 63 of the WRC sporting regulations has the full Parc Ferme rules in detail. Photo credit Flickr user sumofmarc.