“Learning is tough for modern co-drivers”
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.