“Learn­ing is tough for mod­ern co-driv­ers”

Motor Sport News - - Rally News -


ity the poor novice, stuck at the back of the field, deal­ing with cut-up tracks, not al­ways know­ing what they’re sup­posed to be do­ing and not get­ting away with things with which the Blue Book­wav­ing fron­trun­ners do.

They’re the ju­nior doc­tors of the ral­ly­ing world; hav­ing to suf­fer and strug­gle through un­til they reach the bright up­lands of ex­pe­ri­ence and, hope­fully, suc­cess. No one said it was go­ing to be easy. And there’s the rub; it isn’t easy, es­pe­cially to mas­ter nav­i­gat­ing on night events. It’s not like you can stop some­one in the street and ask them how to do it, the av­er­age passerby prob­a­bly wouldn’t know that the sport ex­ists, never mind be­ing able to tell you how the three-quar­ter rule can be utilised.

To make mat­ters worse, begin­ners to­day seem to have less sup­port avail­able to them than ever be­fore. The tra­di­tional source of learn­ing was at the lo­cal mo­tor club, where old hands could pass on their knowl­edge to young whip­per­snap­pers. But to­day mo­tor clubs are in ter­mi­nal de­cline.

Be­ing a reg­u­lar mem­ber of a re­sults team, I’m ac­cus­tomed to the scenes at a petrol sta­tion fore­court in the early hours of the morn­ing, where large crowds of spec­ta­tors and of­fi­cials ex­pec­tantly wait for the first cars to ar­rive.

I’m also fa­mil­iar with the scene two hours later of an al­most de­serted fore­court when the tailen­ders ar­rive. In that po­si­tion, usu­ally be­ing the only rep­re­sen­ta­tives of of­fi­cial­dom around, we’re quite used to com­peti­tors com­ing up to us and ask­ing some very ba­sic ques­tions about what they’re sup­posed to be do­ing.

What time are they due out? Do they go back out on the orig­i­nal time? What’s a Route Check?

Who can blame them? Where should they have learnt this knowl­edge? You don’t know what you don’t know.

As ex­pe­ri­enced com­peti­tors and of­fi­cials, we need to make a New Year’s Res­o­lu­tion, even if it is Fe­bru­ary – the sea­son is only just start­ing – to help and as­sist begin­ners in what­ever way we can. It doesn’t take long for some­one with a bit of tal­ent to get the hang of it.

I re­call that it was about half­way through my sec­ond rally that I re­alised what I should be do­ing. I did, how­ever, take a bit longer to get good at it.

We mustn’t let keen, some­times very keen, begin­ners get dis­heart­ened and give up. It’s vi­tal for the health of the sport that Novices are nur­tured. They will not only pro­vide the com­peti­tors of the up­com­ing years but also the or­gan­is­ers. With­out them there is no fu­ture.

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