Guide first written by Ian Harden and amended by Neil Bye and Bryan Hull.
Notes added where another viewpoint may be helpful. A lot of things are personal preference and what works for one co-driver may not for you and your driver. If in doubt feel free to ask another co-driver.
✔ Bag to keep everything in, not to large as you’ll be tempted to carry more and more.
✔ Clipboard for time cards You can buy clipboards that double as SOS/OK Board
✔ Cable ties
✔ Multi-tool and/or cable cutters
✔ Spare intercom battery
✔ Assorted pens, pencils, highlighters, small stapler.
✔ Event paperwork (Roadbook, Maps/Notes, Timecards, Event Regs (leave your copy of the Blue Book in the service vehicle))
✔ Two digital watches
✔ Work gloves
✔ Tyre pressure gauge.
Before the event
Well before the date of the event arrives the co-driver’s job starts. It is down to the Driver and Co-driver to ensure that you receive a set of regulations / SRs (basically a set of rules relevant to the event – as all events don’t have exactly the same format Standing Regulations). It may be worthwhile contacting the organising club and the Entry Secretary (internet very handy for doing this) and requesting you receive a set of regs. Don’t automatically assume you will get a set, as you won’t but if you are registered for a championship your should receive a set in the post when published. The onus is very much on the competitor to enter the event in plenty of time.
When you get the regs, fill them out neatly and clearly in block letters so that the Entry Secretary can read your handwriting. If you have a regular driver have a crib sheet or a copy of a previous entry form with all details on such as previous results for seeding purposes, both licence numbers, and service barge registration number etc.
Send entry forms off as early as you can, even if you have another event before the one you are applying for, it’s a lot easier to cancel an entry than to get a run from 10th reserve!
Read and double check details in the regs, esp timing aspects. Are there penalties for early arrival, what is maximum lateness (see 15), can you cycle round the venue if a Single Venue, when will gates etc be locked (you’ll feel a right plonker if you have to be at the start ramp at 10am yet you’re locked outside the venue as it shuts it’s gates at 8am, and it will be all your fault). Do you have to provide your own numbers, is there a tyre van at the venue etc?
Make sure you know what you will be using for the route, if it’s maps do the organisers provide them, or if notes order them in plenty of time.
Book suitable accommodation in plenty of time for the correct number of team members.
If possible pop over to where the car lives prior to an event, just check things like intercom, and adjust belts if somebody else has been sat in your seat, a good time to do your dummy tyre change routine also.
Scrutineering and Documentation
Make it as easy as possible for your car to be noise checked and scrutineered, undo bonnet pins and rear boot before being asked to.
Have helmets and overalls on the roof of the car for inspection and the car’s MSA Logbook and MOT, if appropriate, for the Scrutineer and have the Scrutineering process card ready to hand over when asked.
At Signing On have the Process card and yours and your drivers competition licence, membership cards and championship cards ready for inspection and ensure that you both sign on and the driver signs for Loxtons Insurance if appropriate.
Sign on with any Championship Co-ordinators if appropriate.
Before leaving signing on check the official notice board for any changes and your start time.
Before the start – Documents.
Road Book , Map Book (and/or Route Note Book) – make sure all the pages are there and are in order – check the page numbers.
Maps / Route Notes – mark junctions and ‘cautions’ (places with exclamation marks) with a highlighter. This helps if you lose your place on a stage. Suggestion – use green for junctions, yellow for single and double cautions, and red for triple (danger) marks. (1)
You may find it useful to also mark the first couple of tulip diagrams at the end of the appropriate stage so that when you have finished the stage you can tell the driver the first few road junctions while you put helmets away, sort drinks etc.
Route or Timings Amendments – check the notice board before leaving signing on and check again before you start the event. The start control may have some amendments or your start time may have changed due to non-starters or late entries.
Time Cards – make sure they are all there – if not, ask for another, full set at the signing on desk and ensure your car number is on each card (2)
Competitor Liaison Officer – get his mobile ‘phone number and find out where he will be during the rally (useful for queries)
At the start ramp (Main control)
Arrive at the start area 20 minutes before your due time. Check the finals as they may not wish you to arrive to early due to space restrictions but it is better to arrive with time in hand to find you are starting earlier than expected than to be late at the very first control of the rally (3)
Helmets – make a final check – are both of them in the car can you hear each other?
Use the start marshal’s clock to set your watches to rally time (always carry two watches in case one fails) (4)
Start time – confirm with start marshal that it hasn’t changed overnight
Make a note of the cars around you as you may not be running in numerical order.
Route or Stage amendments – check if there are any, and sign for them. Better to do this before you start or are sat in the queue as less pressure than making the changes to the notes or road book while driving to the first stage.
Don’t pass the yellow Arrival board until your allotted time (remember the two-minute ‘window’, i.e. 59 seconds before, until 59 seconds after ‘your’ minute)
Don’t hand over the time card until you are IN the minute you are due to start.
Start marshal must sign your time card before you go
Calculate your next Arrival time as soon as possible (see Target Timing, below). Don’t be afraid to keep checking your Arrival time, better to arrive at the correct time rather than late or even worse early.
Use either the Road Book or the maps to navigate – never ‘mix and match’ on one road section (5)
Give clear, simple instructions, e.g. “Go two miles until Turn Left at the ‘T’ Junction” then as you near the junction, remind the driver “Turn Left at the ‘T’ Junction, then go half a mile until Turn Right onto a minor road”.
Tick off, put a line through, each tulip as you get to it so that you can see your progress and don’t get “lost” in the Road Book.
Try not to chat too much – you can easily lose concentration and miss a turning
Reset the trip meter, if you have one, after each road book instruction. (6)
Reminder in case you get lost – one grid square on a 50,000 series map = 1 kilometre. At road section speed, you take about 1 minute to cover a kilometre.
‘Visit the bushes’ if you need to – there’s nothing worse than needing the loo halfway through a stage – your bladder takes a real hammering on a rough stage.
Re-check your calculation of the arrival time before you go into the control
If there is a queue at Arrival, get out of the car and go to the marshal to get your time – it’s your responsibility, not the marshal’s
Do up your helmet strap and attach your HANS device to your helmet.
Intercom – plug it in and switch it on. Adjust the volume (8)
Seat belts – do them up tight. Make sure your lap straps are tight and when you tighten up the shoulder straps the belts don’t ride.
Don’t pass the yellow Arrival board until your due time.
Don’t handover the time card to the Marshal until you are IN the minute you want.
Check the marshal has given you the time you want, and the time card is signed
You should now have a minimum of three minutes between your arrival time and your provisional start time
Use this ‘dead time’ to tell the driver what the stage looks like, e.g. “It looks fast and open for the first mile, and then it gets twisty”. This gives him a general idea of what is ahead.
The start marshal must give you your actual start time, and sign the time card
Stow away everything that you don’t want, either in your navigator’s bag, or in a door pocket, or tucked down the in-car side of your seat. Remember, you can get hurt or at least distracted when flotsam flies around the cabin (9)
Stow the time card where it’s easy to find at the stage finish – the door pocket is ideal or under your thighs.
Zero your stopwatch if you use one.
Zero the tripmeter
Give the driver your first on-stage instruction, e.g. “Notes will start with 100 to Square Right, then 300″.
Tell the driver when there are 30 seconds to go, then 15, then 10, then count down 5,4,3,2,1 and give a very clear “Go”
Start your stopwatch on ‘Go’
On the Stage
Give the driver clear, simple instructions. Try to call the instructions in pairs, i.e. “Fast Left, 100″.This means you are giving him the severity of the corner and the distance to the next instruction.
Maps / Route Notes – If you get lost on the maps / route notes, pick it up at the next highlighted junction, or at a definite re-start point – a hairpin, for instance. Tell him your lost on the notes or maps. Never make the driver feel he is driving the stage on his own. Tip: ask him to call what he sees until you can find your place again. As you get to the re-start point, say that you are back on the maps / notes. (12)
Reading maps / route notes – Hold them up and look over the top. Look up and down with your eyes. Try not to move your head. This helps to stop car-sickness.
Reminder for fog, poor light or dusty conditions – 100 yards at rallying speed takes about 3 seconds – as you hit the straight you’ve called, start mentally counting, then re-call the next corner, and give the next instructions at the same time.
Encourage the driver – a “well driven” if he holds a slide does wonders for his confidence.
Punctures – rule of thumb – you can drive 2 miles on a front puncture and 6 miles on a rear before you start damaging the wheels and suspension. (13)
Punctures – if you stop to change a wheel, decide beforehand who does what – e.g. the driver loosens the wheel nuts while the co-driver fetches the new wheel and jack.
Punctures – stow everything away when you’ve finished; don’t just pile back into the car and roar off. You’ve lost time anyway, so make sure it’s properly sorted.
Crashes or breakdowns – display your ‘OK’ board clearly, and then find somewhere safe to stand. If you go looking for the nearest radio point, watch out for rally traffic. (14)
Flying Finish – don’t slow down until you pass the Red Board (15)
Stop your watch at the Red Board. Check your time in hours, minutes and seconds
You should never have to overshoot the Stop Line. If you do, do not reverse. You can be excluded. Get out of the car and walk back to the marshals.
Check your time with what the Marshal puts on the time card. If it’s more than five seconds slower, query it. Ask to see the official clock. (16)
If they won’t change it, ask them to write ‘Time queried’ on the card and sign it.
Take your helmet off and stow it
Take a few seconds ‘breather’ to gather your wits and get out the Road Book before moving off.
As soon as possible, calculate your next arrival time (see Target Time, below).
Ask the driver if he felt any problems with the car – ask him to check the brakes and steering on the next road section “Press the pedal and waggle the wheel”
Target Time – how to calculate it
1. Check your finish time in hours, minutes and seconds. 2. Ignore the ‘seconds’. 3. Add the next Road Section time (in minutes) to the hours and minutes of your finish time. 4. The sum total is your next arrival time. (17)
Calculation reminder – there are 60 minutes in 1 hour
The marshal must transfer your finish time for the previous stage onto the next time card in the stack, and must sign for it. They may ask you to transfer the time to the next time card, it varies from event to event, marshal to marshal.
Make a separate note of the Start and Finish times of the previous stages. This is sometimes on a tear-off strip on the time card ‘spine’. Do not let your time card go until you have done this.
Keep a running total of your previous stage times throughout the day check with other competitors as well if you want to know how you are performing.
On the road section into Service ask the driver for a quick break down of what work he would like done. Once your in service it is better to have a written list of extra items that need attention rather than trying to remember.
Get the mechanics to park as near to Service Out as possible – it saves hassle if you’ve got problems
Check interim results, if they are available. Note anything you need to query (18)
Don’t let the driver wander too far away – it’s easy to get lost in a service area
Keep a close eye on your time – remind the team at ten minutes and five minutes to go – ideally you want to be back in the car and pulling away with five minutes to go (19)
Keep a few minutes “in your pocket” so that you are ready to leave on time and relaxed rather than frantically speeding through a crowded service area.
If you have a problem and you may book out late be aware of any penalties and be prepared to take lateness or finish work on the road section. You can torque wheel nuts up and other small jobs after you have booked out of service rather than lossing valuable time, but remember to complete these jobs asap and don’t start the next stage with work unfinished..
Don’t pass the yellow board until your due time, unless the marshal waves you in. The regulations or finals should tell you if there is any penalty for entering the final control early but you must get the marshal to fill in the time you are due to finish.
Fill in the damage declaration and get the driver to sign it
Check interim results if they are available and note anything you need to query
Give your driver a “well done”, even if you’ve finished dead last
After the rally – Rally HQ
Go there and check your times against the provisional results. If you’ve got a query, use the results query sheet
There are 30 minutes between results going provisional and final. Re-check any new issues of provisional results to make sure your times haven’t been changed by mistake
Try not to go until results are declared final
If you win an award, remember to thank the marshals and organisers
Above All – Remember
Get the timing right and the rest is easier than it seems
Your main priority is to co-ordinate you and your driver so that you work as a team – you are keeping everything together.
Look confident even if you don’t feel it
Smile and be polite at all times.
(1) Be careful mind, you can only transfer info given by the organisers onto your maps/notes. If a pal tells you to watch a particular bend yet it’s not officially cautioned then you are not allowed to mark your map.
(2) Check your Time Cards have your car number on them, they are not forced to, you must look after your Time Cards; guard them with your life. I always use a clipboard to keep them on, nothing worse than asking a marshal to sign a damp crumpled piece of card.
(3) But don’t arrive too early as to make a nuisance of yourself, some start areas can be cramped so having you blocking the road for quarter of an hour won’t win you any friends.
(4) A clock maybe available at signing on so you can calibrate yours earlier than at start ramp.
(5) I tend to have both map and road book open, I use the map for more a long range overview of where we are heading and the roadbook for the finer detail. Also sometimes there maybe a long distance between junctions, I like to know exactly how far till the next control so will then revert to map.
(6) But not essential, if money is tight spend it elsewhere first. Don’t rely on them as they can give false readings.
(7) On road sections, don’t dawdle but don’t speed. You should have plenty of time to get to the next control. In most areas as soon as the police get wind there is a rally on you can bet they will be out in force, bless em.
(8) If your intercom uses batteries, carry a spare in your co-driver’s bag and try and remember to switch it off if the car is going to be left for a while. Probably best to buy a new battery every event, a small price to pay for something that could seriously knacker your whole event.
(9) A good habit to get into is as you are about to go into the stage, fold your road book over to the next road section, so as you finish the stage voila you’re on the correct page, I also tend to scribble in the first couple of junctions from the road book onto map or pace notes at stage end, as the stage finish is a very busy time for us co-drivers.
(11) Best check with driver if he wants repeats, he may think you are talking about another bend which has yet to come up. Saying the word HERE can help as in Square Left here then 200.
(12) I actually prefer to let the driver know he is on his own, by saying exactly that ‘You’re on your own, I’ll pick you up when I can’. Never ever guess the calls.
(13) A good tyre change will take approx 3 minutes, so calculate how much time you will lose changing the tyre vs continuing on at a slower pace, 6 miles is about the breakeven point, so if you only have 2 miles left to go continue on without loading the punctured tyre and you should lose less time than if you stopped to change it. Worth doing a dummy change at home prior to the rally. Don’t forget to do up your harness after changing a tyre!
(14) Don’t forget your Warning Triangle
(15) But make sure you do slow down after the flying finish, nothing annoys organisers more than cars coming into the Finish control at full speed, it is also highly dangerous and could end up with you being excluded from the event.
(16) May sound obvious but if the time you receive is slightly faster than what you think you did then say nothing, a good poker face will help here. But if it is a lot faster say 20 seconds then it may get queried and you could end up with a notional time which may be slower than what you really did, nothing can prepare you for that situation; you just have to think fast and on your feet so to speak.
(17) Maximum Lateness, this is the amount of time you can be late into a control before you are excluded. Let’s for example assume you are due at stage two on a multi-venue event at 10:05 (always use 24hr clock). So you arrive on time and get 10:05 on your timecard (always check what is written on your card as we all make mistakes). You now have 3 minutes before you’re off (or 5 if you want to change a tyre), so you will start rallying at 10:08. It’s a short stage of 4 miles with a bogey of 3½ minutes and a Target Time of 8 minutes. You have a clean run and record a finishing time of 10:12:41 (thus a stage time of 4 minutes and 41 seconds). The marshal at the Finish control fills out your card; you now have a road section to stage 3. Which is 11 miles long and you have 23 minutes in which to do it. But you miss a turning and suddenly realise you are off rally route. You turn round and double back to the turning you missed. Assuming a Maximum Lateness of 15 minutes (it can vary, read the regs) you have to get to Stage 3 Arrival Control before 10:50 to avoid being OTL (stage finish time dropping the seconds plus 23mins (10:35) plus 15mins maximum lateness). If you manage to arrive at Stage 3 Arrival on 10:41 you have dropped 6 minutes of your lateness and therefore only have 9 minutes left to play with, fortunately lateness is penalty free which means it won’t go against your actual stage times; until you reach Maximum Lateness then it’s an early bath.
Let’s take the same scenario but this time you have a slight off mid stage. Now you are interested in the Target Time, by the time you extract yourself from the ditch you have taken 16 minutes, now all is not lost, because your stage time won’t be 16mins but the Target Time of 8mins. But of course you took 16mins, so you have eaten into your Maximum Lateness to the tune of 8 minutes, you now only have 7 minutes to play with until either the end of the rally or until the Lateness is reset back to zero. If your ditch had held you for 25 minutes then you are OTL by 2 minutes.
(18) If you have time try and resolve any query there and then, a lot easier than trying to get a time for stage 2 sorted after stage 12 when you could have queried it after stage 4. But results teams are often very busy so be polite and don’t make a nuisance of yourself, but don’t get fobbed off either.
(19) But don’t harass them, if you are barking fifteen minutes, ten minutes, nine minutes etc they may not carry out some piece of maintenance that could cost you a finish or worse. Some teams like to have a large clock on the side of their van and the co-driver can write the time due out on the side of the van or somewhere. If it’s possible watch where the cars are going out of service so you know how long you will need to get into car and get over to Service Out Control.
After the event, write down any problems with the car; it’s easier to remember them now than a month later. Don’t forget to thank your team Driver, Chase Car, Mechanics, Butty maker etc
Rally Co-Driving by Phil Short ISBN 1 85260 435 2
Rally Navigation by Martin Holmes ISBN 1 85960 400 5