What is Rallying?
Rallying is a form of motor competition that takes place on public or private roads with modified production or specially built road-legal cars. This motorsport is distinguished by running not on a circuit, but instead in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between set control points (stages), leaving at regular intervals from one or more start points. Rallies may be won by pure speed within the stages or alternatively by driving to a predetermined ideal journey time within the stages.
There are two main forms: stage rallies and road rallies. Since the 1960s, stage rallies have been the professional branch of the sport. They are based on straightforward speed over stretches of road closed to other traffic. These may vary from asphalt mountain passes to rough forest tracks, from ice and snow to desert sand, each chosen to provide an enjoyable challenge for the crew and a test of the car’s performance and reliability.
The entertaining and unpredictable nature of the stages, and the fact that the vehicles are in some cases closely related to road cars, means that the bigger events draw massive spectator interest, especially in Europe, Asia and Oceania.
Road rallies are the original form, held on highways open to normal traffic, where the emphasis is not on outright speed but on accurate timekeeping and navigation and on vehicle reliability, often on difficult roads and over long distances. They are now primarily amateur events. There are several types of road rallies testing accuracy, navigation or problem solving. Some common types are: Regularity rally or a Time-Speed-Distance rally (also TSD rally, testing ability to stay on track and on time),others are Monte-Carlo styles (Monte Carlo, Pan Am, Pan Carlo, Continental) rally (testing navigation and timing), and various Gimmick rally types (testing logic and observation).
Many early rallies were called trials, and a few still are, although this term is now mainly applied to the specialist form of motor sport of climbing as far as you can up steep and slippery hills. And many meets or assemblies of car enthusiasts and their vehicles are still called rallies, even if they involve merely the task of getting there (often on a trailer).
Rallying is a very popular sport at the “grass roots” of motorsport—that is, motor clubs. Individuals interested in becoming involved in rallying are encouraged to join their local automotive clubs. Club rallies (e.g. road rallies or regularity rallies) are usually run on public roads with an emphasis on navigation and teamwork. These skills are important fundamentals required for anyone who wishes to progress to higher-level events.
Also known as documentation checks, these take place at Rally HQ, and are where the drivers and co-drivers sign-on for the rally, and have licenses checked.
Is the technique of using the left foot to operate the brake pedal in an automobile, leaving the right foot dedicated to the throttle pedal.1 It contrasts with the normal practice of the left foot operating the clutch pedal, and the right foot operating the brake and accelerator pedals.
At its most basic purpose, left-foot braking can be used to decrease the time spent between the right foot moving between the brake and throttle pedals, and can also be used to control load transfer.
In rallying left-foot braking is very beneficial, especially to front-wheel drive vehicles. It is closely related to the handbrake turn, but involves locking the rear wheels using the foot brake (retarding actually, to reduce traction, rarely fully locking – best considered a misapplication), which is set up to apply a significant pressure bias to the rear brakes. The vehicle is balanced using engine power by use of the accelerator pedal, operated by the right foot. The left foot is thus brought into play to operate the brake. It is not as necessary to use this technique with Rear-wheel drive and All wheel drive rally vehicles because they can be easily turned rapidly by using excess power to the wheels and the use of opposite lock steering, however the technique is still beneficial when the driver needs to decelerate and slide at the same time. In rear wheel drive, left foot braking can be used when the car is at opposite lock and about to spin. Using throttle and brake will lock the front tires but not the rears, thus giving the rears more traction and bringing the front end around.
Is a driving technique used mostly in performance driving1, although some drivers use it on the road in everyday conditions in the interests of smoothness. It involves operating the throttle and brake pedals simultaneously with the right foot, while facilitating normal activation of the clutch with the left foot. It is used when braking and downshifting simultaneously (prior to entering a turn), and allows the driver to “blip” the throttle to raise the engine speed and smoothly engage the lower gear.
Heel-toe or heel-and-toe double-declutching is used before entry into a turn while a vehicle is under braking, preparing the transmission to be in the optimal gear to accelerate out of the turn. One benefit of downshifting before entering a turn is to eliminate the jolt to the drivetrain, or any other unwanted dynamics. The jolt will not upset the vehicle as badly when going in a straight line, but the same jolt while turning may upset the vehicle enough to cause loss of control if it occurs after the turn has begun. Another benefit is that “heel-and-toeing” allows you to downshift at the last moment before entering the turn, after you have started braking and the car has slowed, so the engine speed when the lower gear is engaged will not be too high.
Performance vehicles are usually modified (if necessary) so that the heights of the brake and accelerator pedals are closely matched and the pedals are not too far apart, to permit easy use of heel-and-toe.
The name, stemming from earlier automotive designs where the accelerator pedal was on the left and could be actuated with the heel while the brake pedal was actuated with the toe, is misleading regarding how the technique is carried out in modern cars, i.e., operating the brake with the left edge of the foot, while rocking it down and to the right to operate the throttle. With practice, it becomes possible to smoothly and independently operate both pedals with one foot. The technique is common in all forms of motorsport, especially rallying.
As the power band of most rally cars is high in the rev range, this technique can also be used to ensure that engine rpm does not drop below the power band of the car while under braking. If this happened there would be a delay between the driver accelerating after the corner and when the car responds; this is especially true in turbocharged cars. This technique ensures that maximum power can be reached the instant the brake pedal is released and the accelerator fully depressed.
The Fédération Internationale de l’Automobile is the world governing body for motor sport, and as such writes the regulations for the WRC. For UK Motorsport the Motor Sport Association (MSA) is the governing body and the Cambrian is run under their regulations.
The Cambrian relies on the assistance of volunteer marshals over the day of the rally. They are there to help ensure the safety of the spectators and are the eyes and ears of the rally on the ground. Timekeepers record the passage of the cars, including starting crews at one-minute intervals on the special stages and recording their finish time to the second.
Are a unique and major tool in modern rallying. Television spectators will occasionally notice the voice of a co-driver in mid-stage reading the pacenotes over the car’s internal intercom. These pacenotes provide a detailed description of the course and allow the driver to predict conditions ahead and prepare for various course conditions such as turns and jumps.
In many rallies, including those of the World Rally Championship (WRC), drivers are allowed to run on the stages of the course before competition and create their own pacenotes. This process is called reconnaissance or recce. During reconnaissance, the co-driver writes down shorthand notes (the pacenotes) on how to best drive the stage. Usually the drivers call out the turns and road conditions for the co-drivers to write down. These pacenotes are read aloud through an internal intercom system during the actual race, allowing the driver to anticipate the upcoming terrain and thus take the course as fast as possible.
Other rallies, including the Cambrian, provide organizer-created “route notes” also referred to as “stage notes” and disallow reconnaissance and use of other pacenotes. These notes are usually created using a predetermined pacenote format, from which a co-driver can optionally add comments or transpose into other pacenote notations.
In the past, most rally courses were not allowed to be scanned prior to the race, and the co-drivers used only maps supplied by the organisation. The exact route of the rally often remained secret until race day. Modern rallies have mostly converted to using organizer-supplied notes or allowing full reconnaissance, as opposed to tackling the stages blindly. This change has been brought on in large part due to competitor demand. Because pacenotes allow a driver to plan for upcoming turns and road conditions, reconnaissance makes the competition experience faster, safer, and more satisfying for the entrant.
On stage rallies such as the Cambrian the winners are generally decided by the times set on the special stages (closed roads). A “bogey time” is set for each special stage (generally at an average speed of 65mph) and a competitor beating the bogey will receive a penalty equal to the bogey. For each second over the bogey time they will receive one second extra penalty. A “target time” is also set for each stage (generally at an average speed of 30mph) and a competitor exceeding the target time wil receive a penalty equal to that time (generally known as a “stage maximum”). Any time over the target time, in whole minutes, will go towards the competitors’ overall lateness which is penalty free unless the aggregate lateness between Main Controls (MC’s) exceeds a given amount (on the Cambrian this is 15 minutes). The road sections between Special Stages are timed at a maximum of 30 minutes and crews beating this time will suffer a penalty of 1 mark per minute. However, if they take longer than the alloted time the complete number of minutes late will go towards their overall lateness time which, if it totals more than 15 minutes, will mean they have retired from the event having gone Over Time Limit (OTL).
The control hub of the rally. From here the rally is monitored constantly, and this is the base for the officials of the event. The St George Hotel in Llandudno is the HQ for the Cambrian Rally.
RECONNAISSANCE OR RECCE
Before a rally, competitors can take the opportunity to drive through the special stages, using a rally car or standard road car (subject to FIA regs), at a controlled speed. Crews are limited to 2 runs through the stages. This is the time that the driver and co-driver will make the pace notes to call out to the driver during the rally. Road Book: Supplied by the organisers, the Road Book contains maps, tulip diagrams and timings for all the special stages and road sections of the rally. Road Section: The public roads which are used by the crews to drive between stages; these are not timed and crews must follow all road traffic laws.
The main operational base for all the teams, all servicing work must be carried out here subject to time limits. On the Cambrian there will be two opportunities to Service the cars – time being allowed between each pair of stages, so after Stages 2 and 4. The Service Area is not open to spectators due to safety requirements.
The checking over of the rally cars which takes place before, during and after the rally to make sure that all cars conform to the championship and event regulations.
The Time Controls (TC) are fixed points on the rally route where crews must check in at their specific time. If they are early or late, time penalties are applied. Road Books: Each crew receives a book from the Organisers containing the exact times allowed between Time Controls together with a set of Time Cards – these cards must be shown at each Control and rally officials record the actual time within it. Completed cards are collected at Passage Controls (PC’s) set up along the route and the results passed direct to Rally HQ to be input into the computer. Interim results are also passed back to Passage Controls for distribution to competitors during the event.
If crews are late at a Time Control they are given a time penalty. For early arrival – 1 minute per minute or fraction of a minute early. For late arrival – 10 seconds per minute or fraction of a minute late.
The FIA World Rally Championship consists of 15 rounds throughout the world – the last of which is Wales Rally GB. The Cambrian Rally () a round of a number of Rally Championships – the British Trials & Rally Drivers Association (BTRDA) series consists of 10 top quality forest rallies throughout Britain, the Welsh Association of Motor Clubs (WAMC) National & Clubman Championships, the Association of North-Western Car Clubs (ANWCC) Forest & Historic Stage Rally Championships and the Formula 1000 Forest Rally Championship – the Cambrian being the final round of all these very hotly-contested series.