PART 1: BASIC CO-DRIVING
What does the Co-Driver Do?
A good co-driver is expected to be all things to all people, at times. On a rally, the co-driver is responsible for:
- Understanding all the Rules and Regulations
- Navigating between the Special Stages
- Ensuring the Rally Car adheres to the correct time schedule
- Reading the Map or Pace-Notes to the driver on the Special Stages
In addition, in smaller teams without a separate co-ordinator, the co-driver will normally be responsible for organising the whole team, both before and during the event.
More details on the duties the co-driver is normally expected to undertake is included in the "Co-Drivers Responsibilities" section.
It is important to realise that a rally is made up of both Special Stages (the competitive part) which are linked together with non-competitive Road Sections. The whole rally will follow a strict route and time schedule. While it is virtually impossible to get lost or make timing errors on the Special Stages, it is very easy for a co-driver to make these mistakes on the Road Sections. Even if a driver is quickest on all the Stages, a simple mistake by the co-driver can receive a heavy penalty and prevent the team from winning the event.
Rules and Regulations
All Rallies are governed by a number of different regulations:
- FIA Yearbook (International Events only)
- MSA Yearbook (National Events only)
- Championship Regulations (specific to each championship)
- Supplementary Regulations (specific to each event)
- Final Instructions and Amendments (specific to each event)
Often each set of regulations will be sub-divided into two categories:
- Technical Regulations – which define what modifications must or may be made to the competition car – either for performance or safety
- Sporting Regulations – which define how the scoring, penalties etc. will be applied and what rules on servicing, timing etc. will be applied.
The FIA and MSA Yearbooks are general regulations which cover all forms of motorsport. It is only necessary to understand those parts which apply to rallying (e.g. Sections E, K and Q of the MSA Yearbook).
You will receive an MSA Yearbook when you apply for your competition licence. If you want an FIA Yearbook you will have to by it separately (currently £48). Alternatively, all the information is available (free) from the FIA’s Website (www.fia.com). Normally the regulations for International events are very detailed and you will not need the FIA Yearbook.
Navigating on Road Sections
The Roadbook will define the route between Stages using diagrams of road junctions and the distances between them. Note that not all junctions may be shown in the roadbook – at junctions that are not shown, you should continue straight on.
Top Tip: Although it is possible to follow the route using just the roadbook and tripmeter, it is advisable to also follow your route on a map. This will prevent a minor problem – such as missing a junction, the tripmeter breaking down etc. – becoming a major disaster. Mark the whole rally route on 1:50000 maps before you start. But do not rely solely on the map as the roadbook may include additional information such as Control locations.
Top Tip: Check that your competitor number is recorded on each time card – sometimes this is already printed on, sometimes you must write it on yourself.
Each Road Section will have an "Target Time" associated with it. The crew must report to the control at the end of the Section at the correct time ("Due Time") – you will be penalised if you are either early or late. You must calculate your Due Time by adding the Target Time to your start time for the section.
Top Tip: The time card always includes the target time for each section on it. If there is any contradiction with the road book, the time card will be correct.
A slight complication is that there are two types of timing:
Target Timing is used for most UK events. Every Time Control is treated as the start of the following section. This means you should work out your Due Time at the next control by adding the Target Time to your Stage FINISH time.
International Timing is where your stage start time is used for a complete section, which will include the stage & the road section following. Here, the time of the stage finish is recorded for the purpose of the event, but not used to calculate your road section time. You should work out your Due Time at the next control by adding the Target Time to your Stage START time. This means the quicker you go on the stage, the more time you have to take on your road section.
On both Target Timed and International Timed events, some Road Sections (e.g. the route to the first stage) may not be preceded by a Special Stage. On these sections, both timing systems are identical.
Some other Sections (e.g. Service Areas) may be marked as Road Sections. You may be given a Target Time of, say 30 minutes to travel a very short distance, giving you plenty of service time.
Alternatively, at some controls (normally controls at the exits of Service Areas and Regroups) the organiser will not specify a Target Time but actually inform you of your Due Time (e.g. at the Service In control).
- If you book in early at a Time Control, you will be penalised (usually 1 minute per minute early).
- Some events do not penalise you if you book in late at a Time Control. Other events will penalise you (typically 10 seconds per minute late). In both cases however, your lateness will be added to your overall "lateness"
- Each event will define a "Maximum Permitted Lateness" (MPL – typically 15 or 30 minutes). If your total "lateness" exceeded this, you will be excluded.
- Sometimes events will "reset" your total "lateness" to zero at certain points (e.g. regroups).
- You cannot reduce your overall "lateness" by booking into controls early!
Top Tip: Time Cards for Target Timed events will often include "Bogey" and "Stage Target" times as well as "Road Target" times printed on them. Only the "Road Target" is important. Although you shouldn’t really place any unofficial marks on your timecard, crossing out (in pencil) the "Bogey" and "Stage Target" times will stop you accidentally using the wrong time when calculating your Due Time.
The "Stage Bogey" is the fastest possible time for the Stage. It is very unlikely you will be faster than this, but if you are, you will be awarded the Bogey time, not your actual time.
The "Stage Target" is the slowest possible time for the Stage. You will normally easily beat this time unless you have a problem on the stage. If you exceed this time, you will be awarded the "Target Time", not your actual time, BUT the additional time you take in excessive of the Target Time will be added to your overall lateness.
Top Tip: timecards are usually only made of thin card. If you attach your time card to a clipboard it will be easier for the marshals to handle.
Each time control is laid out in a similar way. For the "Arrival Control" there is a board with a picture of a clock, on a yellow background, giving warning that there is a time control ahead. (Generally 25m) At the actual control, the same picture of a clock on a board, this time with a red background, is shown.
Time controls for stages will always start with an "Arrival Control" as above. Then there will be a board with a flag diagram within a circle on a red background. This shows the stage start. The actual Start time will be recorded by a marshal on the time card.
Once you have booked into the Arrival Control, you are in "dead-time". Normally, the Start Marshal will start you within 1 to 3 minutes, although some times there can be much longer delays. You do not need to worry about this.
The finish of the stage is marked with a board with a chequered flag on a yellow background, which gives warning that the flying finish is approx. 100m away. The "flying finish" board is similar with a chequered flag on a red background, at which point your time through the stage will be recorded. (Do not stop at the Flying Finish!)
Generally a 3-2-1 countdown sequence will follow to slow you down to the time control which is marked by a stop board on a red background. Here the marshals will write the time recorded as you passed the flying finish, onto your time card.
Sometimes, the end of each control area is marked by a board with a beige circle and three black transverse lines through it, generally 50m further on from the control board.
There are limitations to the work which can be done within "the control" so the end board is quite important to note, too. For example, you may change a puncture, again with permission, between the arrival control and the stage start, but you have a maximum of 5 minutes to do this.
Recording your Actual Time
You are allowed to enter the control during your "minute" or the minute immediately preceding it. For example, if you need to arrive at 08:45, you may enter the control at 08:44:00 and proceed to the red board. Do not pass the Yellow Board before this time. Do not however, hand over your time card until 08:45:00 has elapsed.
There are strict rules for behaviour within the control zone:
- The check in procedure begins the moment the vehicle passes the time control zone entry sign (yellow board)
- Between the zone entry sign and the actual time control, the crew is forbidden to observe a halt of any kind, or drive at an abnormally slow speed
- The clocking of the time card can only be carried out if the two crew members and the car are in the control zone and within the immediate vicinity of the control table
- The check in time corresponds to the exact moment at which one of the crew members hands the time card to the Control Official (Marshal)
- Then, either by hand, or by a print out device, the Marshal marks on this card the actual time at which the card was handed in, and nothing else
- The target check in time is the time obtained by adding the time allowed to complete the road section to the start time for this section, only using the times to the complete minute
- The crew will not incur any penalty for checking in before time if the vehicle enters the control zone during the target check-in minute or the minute preceding it
Top Tip: It is your responsibility to ensure you get the correct time on your time card. Even if this means getting out of your car and walking to the marshal!
Types of Control
- Main Controls (Start, Finish)
- Time Control
- Stage Arrival & Start
- Stage Finish
- Passage Controls
- Regroup Control
Stage Start Routine
- Have ready the correct set of pacenotes for stage
- Turn off Radio and Mobile Phones as they may interfere with the intercom during the stage.
- Check both helmets are fastened properly
- Check both seat belts are fastened properly and are tight
- Set trip meter to zero
- Set stopwatch to zero
- Check the fire extinguisher is armed
- Tell the driver a little about the stage, particularly the first section
- Repeat the Marshal’s countdown
- Start the stopwatch
Top Tip: write "Extinguisher" in your roadbook just after the first control, in case you forgot to arm your fire extinguisher before the start of the event.
- Race Suit
- Neck Brace
- Trip Meter (calibrated!)
- Foot Rest
- Map Light
- Seating Position.
- Seat Belts
- Pace Note Books
- Co-Driver Bags
Top Tip: Always, always fit a brand new battery to the intercom before a rally and always carry a brand new spare. The additional expense is so low compared with the overall cost of the event so it is just not worth economising.
On to Part 2:More Advanced Co-Driving
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