Guide To Rally Co Driving


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In a sense the actual rally is the easy part compared with all the work preparing the car, travel, pace noting, and all the other tasks already taken care of.

The rally co driver has several tasks during the rally:

  • Making sure the driver follows the correct route, and stays on schedule the entire time.
  • Making sure time cards are filled in correctly.
  • Reading back pace notes on the special stages.
  • Keeping track of stage times (including rivals).
  • Coordinating service and other crew members.
  • Dealing with route changes or emergencies.

Prior to the start of the rally, you will have dispatched your service crew to their first (perhaps only) service area so that they can prepare for when you arrive.

A last look at the official rally notice board will give you an exact start time, and it is important to have both driver and co driver correctly attired (fully suited with helmets off) and in the car at least thirty minutes before that time. You should join the line of cars at the first time control (normally MTC1) in the starting order. Now is a good time to synchronize your stopwatch to the "official rally time" shown on the clock at MTC1.

Cars will be scheduled to arrive at MTC1 at regular intervals, and one or two minutes between cars is typical. You must not enter the time control area until the time that your car is due. An explanation of rally timing can be found here:

How Rally Timing Works

Most rallies begin with a road section between MTC1 and the arrival control for the first special stage (ATC1). When you arrive at ATC1 you will probably find a line of cars already there waiting to officially "arrive". Make sure that you enter the time control at the correct time even if that means getting out of the car and walking up to the marshal with your time card. You should be able to see the special stage start line from the ATC, and so you can decide when to put your helmet on and get belted in.

Soon it will be your turn to move from the ATC to the start control for your first ever special stage. To quote Douglas Adams in the Hitchhikers Guide; DON'T PANIC!

The stage start marshal will write the next available start time on your time card. Make sure you check this is correctly written in the correct box. If it is wrong, ask the marshal to correct it and to sign it.

You should now have your pace notes open at the first page of notes for the first stage, and it is a good idea to read the first few notes to your driver while you await the start time. Experienced crews will have spent time at the arrival control going over the notes and visualizing the stage, and discussed any particulary bad hazards and other useful information.

During the Rally Continued



"To finish first, first you must finish", is a greatly over used saying. To finish first is virtually impossible for any newcomer, so your goal should be to finish penalty free with the car in one piece. If you do that, you can work on the finishing first part later.

Talk to other rally crews at every opportunity; they won't bite! Of all motorsports, rallying is the most sociable, and talking to your fellow competitors and peers is a great way to learn the sport.

Don't make the mistake of blindly following the car in front of you into time controls a minute after he enters. You MUST do what is right for you and your driver and ignore what other crews are doing. If your time calculation says you need to enter a time control before (or at the same time as) the car in front, DO IT. If you calculate that you should wait an extra minute, DO IT. You will not get a bonus for copying other crews, but you will be penalized if you copy their mistakes.