Road Rallying


The following introduction is borrowed from because it sums up exactly what Road rallying is:-

Some nights it’s the best form of motor sport ever invented !
Some nights you will think it’s the worst form of motor sport ever invented !
But one thing is for sure – Once you are bitten by the Road Rally bug, you will be hooked.
The aim of a road rally is to follow a route at an average speed, usually 30mph. Throw in the fact that this route will be split into 30 – 40 sections and your navigator will be given pieces of route at each of these, which need to be deciphered. These pieces of route will be presented to you as a piece of paper on which will be your written route instructions, which to the untrained eye, may look like hieroglyphics – these will actually relate to features on the Ordnance Survey map that the navigator will have in front of him.

Now throw in the fact that on route, you need to write down route checks. These will normally be a car number plate ( or similar ) positioned on a wooden stake at the side of the road, which your navigator needs to write down on his time card ( did I mention time cards ? ). Certainly when you are starting out, you will probably need to stop and write these down – while, chances are, the navigator will still be trying to plot the route on the map !

Just for good measure then, lets throw in those little back lanes, covered in mud and water – even some snow, ice and fog – a few farm tracks, farm yards, possibly the odd disused airfield. So which seat do you want to be in ? Read on :-

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What is road rallying from a navigators point?

Before you consider entering a road rally, it is important get a good basic knowledge of the types of navigation that can be found on an event. The most obvious starting point is to join a local motor club where you will find experienced navigators who are willing to share their

The first starting point is what is known as a table top rally. This is an exercise where you can learn to plot various types of navigation whilst in the comfort of a pub. The organiser will give you time constraints to simulate a real event or it could just be a case of who completed the route instructions the quickest is the winner.

Once you have gained confidence in plotting navigation in a table top, the next step to take is competing in a 12 car rally. This is a short version of a road rally but is limited to 12 entries. The route is between 50 to 60 miles and is split into several sections with a time control at the end of each section. At each control a route handout will be handed to you to get you to the next control. To make sure that you follow the correct route, the organise will put out a route check which you should record on your time card.

What do you need?

You will have to join a local motor club to enter a road rally and you will need a Competition
License that is available from the MSA. If you are competing on an event that is run under a clubman permit no competition license is required although you will have to be a member from one of the invited clubs.
You will also require the following stationery items: –

1. Pencils – it is better to use a soft pencils, such as 2B or 3B, as these are easier to rub off the map should you make a mistake. A harder pencil will tend to leave marks on you map.
2. Rubber – for deleting those mistakes.
3. Pencil Sharpener – it is surprising how your pencil will wear down during an event.
4. Romer – this is used for accurately plotting a map reference on the map
5. Map board – this should be made from cardboard for safety reasons. If you use a piece of hardboard or something stronger, you run the risk of this digging into your abdomen should you have an incident.
6. Clip board – on some events you may find that 2 are useful especially if the organiser require you to write the route check details on a separate piece of paper from your time cards.
7. Maps – it is imperative that you have the correct edition of the map that the organiser has stipulated in the supplementary regulations. Having old maps can cause problems as roads change and your navigation will not plot. It is easy to check the edition of the map by
looking at the top of where the map features are listed. This will be something like C1 or C1.
8. Poti – this is used to magnify and light up the map.

Timing on a rally—Sections on a rally are times at different average speeds depending on the type of section. It is important that you do not exceed these averages, except where allowed, as the penalties are greater than losing time on a section.

Standard Section—You must complete these sections in the time allowed to avoid any penalties. If you are late into a control, then you are penalised for every minute after your due time. If you take a time earlier than allowed then the penalties are doubled.

Neutral Section—These are timed at 20mph and are used to take the event through a built up area. You are not allowed to make up any time in these sections at all. The penalties are usually one fail for every minute that you leave the control early. You can take a time later than you want and will not get penalised for this. You do however lose time towards your maximum lateness.

Transport Section—These are used to take you from one part of the event to another with easy navigation. You are not penalised for arriving late although you can make up time in these sections subject to the three quarter time rule that will be explained below.

Regularity Sections—The control at the end of the regularity section is timed to the
previous whole minute. You cannot make up any time on these sections, however these may contain ‘hidden’ controls to make sure.

Three Quarter Rule—If you have lost time, you can recover this on subsequent sections. On standard sections that are greater than four miles in length you are restricted to completing that section in three quarters of the time allowed rounded up to the next whole minute. I.e. of a 12 minute section you can complete this in 9 minutes as long as you have lost 3 minutes at earlier controls. On a 14 minute section you can take a time of 11 minutes assuming that you have lost 3 minutes earlier.

Outside Total Lateness. (OTL) – If you are losing time on sections, there is a possibility that you will be outside your lateness allowance that is usually 30 minutes. This can be calculated by adding 31 plus your car number to the time of car 0 due time. If you are late, consider cutting the rote to a point that the organisers have specified that you can rejoin at.

What is Road Rallying from a drivers point ?

The navigators job may sound like a hard one, so lets look at the drivers responsibilities.
Its your car – and you have to get your pride and joy through those back lanes, tracks,
farmyards and air fields in one piece. This has to be done quickly, while listening to your navigator and with a lot of patience. You need to keep your concentration going constantly for about six hours, in the early hours of the morning, when you should be in bed!
Remember – its not just that one night. Your car needs to be prepared between events ( see car building pages ).

You will need to have an understanding of the types of navigation, your navigator has to work out.
You need to spot and read the route checks for you navigator to write down ( not to mention the slowing down or stopping for them – sometimes not quite as easy as it may seem ).
Whilst doing this, you need to be observing the rules of the road, as they all still apply – you need to be observant of the tell tale signs that tell you which way the cars in front have gone – your navigator will not see these, as he will ( should be ) reading his maps, or plotting route. Do these signs send you the same way as your navigator is telling you to go ?

What is Road Rallying as a crew ?

A driver, a navigator and a car are a crew – you all need to work together to even have a chance at being successful in this sport. Its not easy, and you will have heated moments, but you will also have some very memorable moments.

But, at the end of the day, or night, no matter what happens, that drink and meal at the finish,
always makes things better ( you just need to make sure you get there ! ).