Once you understand and are following the first two rules of rallying; 1) stay on the road, and 2) stay on route the next challenge (and the third rule) is to stay on time. Winning rallies requires precision skills; both the driver and the navigator must be actively involved in order to "zero" a checkpoint (to arrive exactly on time, thereby getting zero penalty points).

First, the driver's responsibilities. The navigator will call for a 'commence average speed of 72kph' (CAS 72). This does not mean 72kph on the straight bits only! It means the driver must maintain an average of 72kph curves, corners, stop signs and traffic lights slow you down, and lower your average speed. A good guideline for the driver is to go 10% faster on the straight bits than the speed that the navigator gave you. So that 72 becomes a 79. Unless you're on a very long stretch of straight road, this rule of thumb should get you into the next checkpoint very close to 'on time'. Remember, navigational rally speeds are set at least 10% below the posted limit, so the driver still won't be exceeding the speed limit.

Next, back to the navigator's side of the car. Your route book tells you how fast to travel for each and every kilometer of the rally. The speed / timing instructions may be part of the section instructions, or they may appear as a separate instruction sheet. Mostly, you will be told to 'Commence Average Speed' of x (shortened to CAS x). Increase or decrease your speed at the distance indicated.

You may be told to pause (usually at major highway crossings or at traffic lights), but pauses are also used by the rally master to control the arrival time at the next checkpoint. A decimal indicates a percentage of a minute, a colon indicates seconds. In other words, a pause of .30 equals :18 seconds.

When you are given a pause at a highway, train track, or traffic lights, go across as soon as you can (safely!), then stop and finish the pause on the other side.

The third timing instruction that you will encouter is elapsed time (E.T.). This is usually implemented to get you to the odometer check, through a heavy traffic area such as a village or from the end of the last section to the finish. For example, you may told that you have 6 minutes to go from 18.13km to 22km. Generally speaking, if you travel at the speed limit, you will have plenty of time to spare, and so you'll stop when you get to 22km, and wait until 6 minutes have elapsed since you left 18.13km. Never leave the end of an E.T. (22km in the example) until the full time has passed.

Timing can be calculated by using a programmable calculator, a lap-top computer or manually. This is how to calculate it manually. Your distant memory of high school physics will remind you that time = distance divided by speed.

To calculate your time from the start of the rally, you will be given your elapsed time to the odometer check (say 15 minutes and 10 Km). At the odometer check, CAS 58kph. (As you are working in minutes, you will need to convert from kph to kpm or kilometers per minute. Click here for a chart which converts kph to kpm. 58kph/60=.967 kpm.) At 13.0km, your time should be 15.0 + 3/.967 = 18.10 minutes or 18:06 from the start. The alternative equation is 60 x Distance = Speed x Time in minutes. The equation then becomes 15.0 + (60 x 3) /58 = t = 18.10 minutes.

You will need to keep a running timing tally, with a fresh start at each checkpoint. Add pauses as the instructions indicate. Confirm your timing with your driver by calculating your time to the next instruction. Let him know how many seconds early or late he is. To be competivitive, try to be within 6 seconds of the correct time. Timing isn't easy, but you do get better with practice!

Timing Traps

Many navigators have had the experience of believing that they were running perfectly on route and exactly on time, only to find that they had arrived at a checkpoint 20 or more seconds off the pace. Chances are, they were caught in a timing trap! To save you that experience, here are some things to watch out for:

Speed Changes Out of Order: All of the change average speed (CAS) instructions are listed in a column but one or two critical changes are listed out of order, causing you to travel too slowly or too quickly for an extended period. If you are being asked to go faster than the posted limit, check for this sort of trap. (Other explanations are that you are off route or that the rally master and the green crew made a mistake.) Another variation is shown at the right. The speed changes are listed in order in one column and the distances are jumbled in the column beside it. The distances must be put in order before you begin the section.



Timing Sections Out of Order: Timing for section 4 may appear on the instruction page for section 3 and vice versa. Even on a timing page, one section could be out of order.

Timing Given From End of Section: Normally, instructions and timing are provided based upon the distance from the start of the section. Timing for one section may break this convention. Be particularly careful when you are doing a "backwards" section to ascertain which way the timing instructions have been calculated.

No Speeds Given for a Section: The general rule is to continue at the last speed provided in the previous section. This can be verified by calculating an average speed based upon Car 0 times. However, bear in mind that Car 0 times are only approximate.

Pauses Given in Two Formats: Pauses are sometimes given in seconds and a 15 second pause appears as "Pause :15". Other rally masters prefer percentages of a minute and the same pause appears as "Pause .25". The challenge comes when a mix of formats are used. The difference between a colon and a period could be a 10 second penalty!

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Last Updated: 2001-04-18
Copyright © 2001 Gail L. Walker, reproduction forbidden without written authorization.