Zeroing Checkpoints

Once you have mastered the art of finding the route, most of your efforts should be focussed on arriving at checkpoints at exactly the right time. At the Expert level, rallies are often won and lost by a tenth of a minute checkpoint penalty. The navigator and driver need to work as a team to perfect their own system for zeroing checkpoints. Here are two popular methods which you may wish to try.

In the first method, the navigator constantly gives the driver an update as to their position relative to perfect time; that is how many seconds early or late they are. Once in sight of the checkpoint, the driver holds the average speed given in the instructions and should cross the board a second or two inside the 6 second window. The navigator watches the clock and calls out the seconds so that the driver does not cross the board a second or two early. While this may seem too complicated for teams running without specialized rally equipment, anyone can apply this technique to checkpoints timed to the minute. Provide your driver with timing checks every few kilometers or at turns. When you see a checkpoint, look at the clock and call off the seconds for your driver. Assuming you are on time, you should arrive just after the top of the minute. This helps avoid a one minute penalty caused by crossing the board 3 or 4 seconds early! Conversely, if you are running late, you may be able to encourage your driver to avoid a full minute late penalty.

The second method takes a lot of practice. The driver needs to cultivate the skill of looking down the road and calling out the distance that the checkpoint board is located at. This sounds easy but is fairly difficult to do as you are travelling towards a partly hidden control! Using the distance estimate, the navigator quickly calculates the correct tenth of a minute to arrive at the control and counts the driver in. The success of this method depends upon the driver's ability to accurately judge distance!

Rally master's often place checkpoints in quick succession. The second checkpoint traps the teams which fail to leave the first checkpoint at the correct time out as shown on their checkpoint sticker. Wait at the checkpoint and leave exactly when you have been instructed to! Drivers should be aware that checkpoints that are timed to the minute, assign a time out at the top of the next minute. If you arrive 40 seconds into the minute (3:05:40), your out time will be 3:06:00. That gives you only 20 seconds to get the sticker, get buckled back into your seat and leave! Don't waste time socializing with the checkpoint crew!

As you begin to work on your timing, don't expect to zero every checkpoint immediately. Set targets to arrive within a 30 second window. Once you can consistently hit this window, you can start to narrow it.

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Last Updated: 2001-04-05
Copyright © 2001 Gail L. Walker, reproduction forbidden without written authorization.