The FIA, the governing body for the World Rally Championship has revealed that the HANS safety device will become compulsory in the WRC next year.

The decision comes following a meeting of the World Motor Sport Council in Paris yesterday [Wednesday], where it was also announced that the 'Head and Neck Support' device would be obligatory in the FIA-GT championship from September 1 2004, and also in the FIA Touring Car Championship from 2005.

HANS was made compulsory in Formula One last year.

It is designed to prevent serious head injuries in the event of an accident by providing a rigid shell collar restrained by the existing seatbelts and fastened to the driver's helmet to minimise movement.

The advantages of the HANS system include the ability to spread loads transmitted in an accident across the driver's forehead, rather than concentrating them on one area, such as the chin.

In the event of an impact, the head's extreme acceleration is minimised, and neck strain reduced by the units stabilising effect. The head is also prevented from hitting the cockpit surround, steering wheel or dashboard in the event of an accident.