Rally Time Control Etiquette

As I write this it’s the day after the 2016 Woodpecker Rally. Boyd Kershaw and I finished 18th overall and 3rd in B11 and 2nd in the BTRDA Silver Star competition. Great result for us both but want am I thinking about? Arrival Controls. Why? Because of something that happened on the event and what I’m reading on FaceBook.

So what is Rally Time Control Etiquette?

Well for me it’s the way Competitors and Marshals should behave at Arrivals, Starts, Stop Lines and any other controls on events.

Lets start at the Start.

You’re at MC1 waiting to start and so get into start order, not necessarily numerical order as there may be some running out of sequence due to late entries being given a number out of sequence. Look at the entry list and be aware of the cars around you.

Park sensibly to allow late arrivers to slot into place. This will be a recurring theme.

You can enter the control 59 seconds before your due time and at a start control the organisers may wish you to do this if they have a commentator wishing to interview the crews before the start.

2015_Marshal001As the Co-driver don’t hand over your time card. Tell the Marshal what time you want and seek confirmation that that is the time they’ll write on the card, when you get the time card backĀ check the time they’ve written. Is it what you want? Thank them, if not tell them politely it’s wrong and ask them to correct with an initial.

Ok we’ve got the time we wanted and we’re ready for the road section, or transit section as it’s called in some countries, and we arrive at the next control. This maybe the first or it maybe the last the procedure should be the same.

You arrive at the control is the car(s) in front of you there already, they may have stopped in management service or filled up for fuel in a local petrol station or stopped at a shop to buy ice creams. If the cars are not there pull to one side to make some space and leave a gap in front of you for cars to pull into.

If conditions allow you should always try and leave a gap for a late arriving competitors to get by, shut your car doors when you’re not getting in and out, it’ll make it easier for others and keep the Midges, Flies etc out of the car.SSA

Now lets get the Yellow Arrival board.

Now with the addition of HANS and Hybrid FHS you may want to have your helmet on and device connected, it’s not currently a requirement but they can be so fiddly and it’s one less thing to worry about.

Stop at the Yellow, do not cross until you are well into the 59 seconds preceding your due minute.

TimeControlCreep into the control in those preceding 59 seconds so that when you arrive at the Red Arrival Board you’re as near to the actual minute you want as you can be.

Open the window/door and say hello to the marshal, maybe try and get some banter going but most importantly ask for the time you want. “10:32 please” DON’T handover your time card until this time.

The custom in British rallying is for the Co-driver to ask for the time, the Marshal to say Yes and you get the time you want. Brilliant! Do this on event outside of the UK or with a Jobsworth Marshal and you’ll potentially get a minutes early arrival penalty.

So play it safe, either enter the Arrival Control during your minute you want (but not too late) or enter in the 59 seconds preceding and sit and wait for the minute you want to tick over and then confirm again with the Marshal the time you want and let them have the time card.

When you’re passed the time card back, check what they’ve written, is it the right time, in the right box etc. If anything is incorrect politely advise them and ask them to correct it and initial. If they refuse don’t get into an argument but ask them to make a note on their check sheet that you have queried the time or are not happy and make a note in your road book or your part of the time card to query later.

Fiesta MarshalsRemember that Marshals are volunteers and are there for you to enjoy your sport and it maybe that they came along that day not having ever marshalled a control before, getting angry with them won’t help. Just raise your issue ASAP with the CLO or other organisers and ensure that it does’t affect your result. If it’s happened to you it’s probably happened to others on the event.

So what happens if there is a hold up on the stage and so there is a queue at the Arrival? Well the Co-driver gets out and walks to the Red board and the Marshal running the control.

The Marshal should not walk down the queue giving out times as they go, what if the Marshal gets lost in the queue and a sea of tabards and Hi Viz jackets and you need to get your time. They should stand at the Red board and if the delay is long have a huddle of Co-drivers around them awaiting their time and as the minute arrives call it out for the Co-driver to present their time card, get their time and then return to their car.

Once again in British rallying there is a habit of Marshals saying they’ll give you the time you want when you finally get to the Red board, fine if true and it’s great of them to do this on a wet and wild rally but make sure that you as the Co-driver hear it for yourself and don’t take the word of a random Co-driver who may have misheard the Marshal or have his own agenda. The last won’t happen but as a Co-driver it’s your job to check.

15_RNW_0099-128You’ve now got three minutes from the Red Arrival board and the Start, this is a regulation and not a nice to have. It’s for the crew to prepare for the stage so you can in theory not have Helmets, HANS or belts done up but I prefer these days to be ready with the added complication of a FHR but you still have 3 minutes to sort your notes, stow your road book, turn the camera on and make sure you’re on the right page of the notes.

StageStartYou can hand your time card over to the Start Marshals over at any time before the start but make sure you have the correct start time written on the card and it’s in the right box and if a signature is required it’s in place.

So what if your start is aborted by the Start Marshals/Stage Commander. Well get them to amend your time card and initial the change and hand it back to you, remember to amend your part of the time card also, especially if your doing an event on International timing where your start time matters for the road timing.

StageStopSo you’ve flown through the stage and put on an impressive performance delivering the notes at the right time clearly and precisely and the Driver has displayed god-like car control and you arrive at the Stop board in a glow of satisfaction.

2015_SACC_Marshals2medWhat happens at the Stop line? Well find the time cards you’ve carefully stowed and hand them over to the Marshal. They’ll fill in the time and hand it back to you. Don’t leave until you’ve got the card back. The Driver will be pumped and ready to go to the next stage so make sure he’s aware that he’s to go no where until you’ve got the cards back and you’ve checked them.

What are you checking? Well as before check that the hours, minutes and seconds are in the correct place and they’ve signed the appropriate place. Did you time the stage yourself, did you capture the minutes and seconds, do they correspond with the time card? If they don’t the stop line is not the place to argue and get the correct time. Instead politely advise the Marshal you think you’ve been given a wrong time and you want it checked so can they make a note on the check sheet, and once again make a note on your part of the time card or in the road book so you can query it later with the CLO or event officials.

If your driver is so pumped at the end of the stage and fails to stop at the Stop Line do NOT reverse back to get your time but instead you get out of the car and walk back with your time card and ask for the time.

Repeat the above as often as you need and always remember it’s up to you to check the time cards but don’t get angry with those for a perceived error but ask them to make a note that you have a query over the time and that you want it check, but don’t expect your error to be corrected without you following it up at HQ after the event. Timing is your responsibility. Check your times and ask the Marshal to make a note if you’re not happy.

So thats control etiquette and behaviour in my opinion.


The photo’s in this post are borrowed from other websites and I apologise to the owners of these photos if they are upset and it causes them distress and will immediately remove if requested but as this is a website for non-profit and the photos are used to illustrate the blog and I hope they don’t mind them being recycled.