My introduction to rally

My first rally

I remember my first rally like it was yesterday. It was the mid to late 90’s. After many years of club motorsport I’d made the decision to finally go rallying. The thing I remember most about that first event was how underprepared we were. Not so much in terms of the car or the logistics, I mean in terms of how a rally worked.

How do I navigate for you?

I’d serviced for mates who were competing and been to plenty of rallies and yet I was new to it all. My best mate Trev who’d agreed to co-drive for me was also new. In fact we’d put our entry in and were ready to go or so I thought. At scrutineering (pre event inspection) Trev asked me “So how do I navigate for you?” That was the moment the penny dropped. I didn’t know enough about the workings of a rally and what I was supposed to do, let alone my co-driver. I’d seen rallies on TV or at spectator points and worked frantically on cars in service, however had little idea what happened in between.

Fortunately a friend of ours (who was/is a very experienced co-driver) walked by just at that moment. I got her to explain to Trev what he needed to do. Over the next hour or so Trev absorbed everything. Luckily he was a quick learner. On the drive home, Trev said “Jesus mate, I’ve got a lot to do”. Only partly concentrating on what he’d said, I replied “You’ll be right mate.” I was mostly lost in my thoughts about preparing the car and getting to the event. Learning how to co-drive two nights before a rally was not the ideal way to do things at all and I hadn’t paid enough attention either.

Rally_co_driver_introduction_to_rally_Big_ABaptism by fire

That first event was an eye opener on many fronts. We’d entered the Clubman Cup section of the Stirling Stages rally and we were the last car. Trev was onto it from the word go. He kept me in check and got us to the right places at the right times.I however was a different story. Time controls, where to stop and start and listening to route instructions were all foreign.

We got through 85% of the rally when I learned a big lesson. Not all of the corners were put in the organiser supplied route instructions. On a right hand bend, we went wide, dodged the trees and landed the car in a ditch. Luckily we drove the car out and finished the rally. I’d managed to damage the suspension and panels on the left front in the process. It was one of many lessons I learned during that first season.

History repeating

Even after all these years I still see and hear the same scenario time and time again. I’ve always thought it odd that you aren’t allowed out on a race track without some education first.You have to carry a “P Plate” until you have some experience in circuit racing. Yet in rallying you can enter a World Championship Event as your first and no one bats an eyelid!

The real turning point actually came in 2013. We were running the Safari Rally, a round of the WA State Championship. As with all other rallies, we’d processed all the entries, checked paperwork and inspected cars. It was then we discovered at scrutineering that a young couple had entered their first rally. We quizzed them on what they knew about rallying. The answer was the same as it had been more than 15 years earlier for Trev and I!

Navigator Training needed

Up until that point, we’d focussed our efforts on the driver training side. Only members of our team had been able to access our knowledge and experience for everything else. By the end of 2013 we’d produced a rally co-driver/introduction to rallying course. We put in a great deal of the tips, tricks and systems we’d learnt to make it as easy as possible for newbies to start rallying. Whilst we call it a co-driver course, it has been designed for drivers and co-drivers. It’s always better if both people in the car know what they are doing. Our first course for 2014 was booked solid! The trouble was we could only find time to run courses at the start of each year. When 2015 rolled around, we were fully booked again and couldn’t take any more people.

Going online

The solution was to take our face to face rally co-driver course online. Now all our knowledge and experience is contained in six video modules. All have downloadable course notes, documentation and examples. 24/7, anywhere in the world the course can be accessed instantly. Now it’s even easier to get started in rally.

If you’d like to know more about our rally co-driver course, click here.

Karl Drummond

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