Targa rallying is a real test of driver and navigator; the driver needs to tackle the test/course as quickly as possible but they cannot do it without the navigator who tells them where to go.
Targa rallying may not be one of the most well known forms of rallying, but using standard cars and a cheap entry level of motor sport, they are rapidly becoming more popular. They are easily accessible to anyone with a road car and driving licence.
How does Targa Rallying work?
A targa rally comprises of a driver, navigator and a car. A targa rally is a long test/course, normally taking a few minutes per test to complete, defined by cones or pylons. The crew are provided with test diagrams which show where to go and which side of the cones to pass, and the navigator tells the driver where to go. Sounds easy? The crew need to ensure they go the right way, the driver cannot hit any cones for that will incur a time penalty and this all has to be done as quickly as possible. It's a real test of driver skill, navigator skill, communication and team work.
The winning crew is the crew who completes all of the tests in the lowest aggregate time. Targa rallies can take place on tarmac or loose surfaces such as gravel or fields and normally take place at a single venue over one day.
How do I start?
Targa Rallies are easily accessible, catering for standard or road rally spec cars (lightly modified vehicles; rollcages may be added but all interior trim must be retained for example). With club memberships from £10/year and entry fees from £40/event they are a very affordable way of getting involved in motor sport. You can also "double drive" on Targa Rallies meaning you can drive and your friend navigate, and then swap roles. You cannot, however, navigate or drive twice on the same event.
To get started, go to some events and chat with some of the competitors and organisers, who will be happy to talk you through everything you need to know and answer any questions you may have. Some events take place on airfields and MOD property meaning spectators are not allowed, so why not volunteer to marshal?
Next, join your local club. You will each need to be a member of the organising club or an invited club to compete, but with club membership from £10/year it is a low cost to get involved. Then, of course, you will need a car…
What kind of car do I need?
Most people start off in their road cars; small hatchbacks have proved popular and competitive in recent years as well as MX5s. Some people will use standard road cars whilst others will use road rally spec cars (lightly modified vehicles; rollcages may be added but all interior trim must be retained for example). Highly modified cars cannot be used, so ensure you check the rules and regulations in advance. Some people will use cars with sump guards, fuel tank guards and such like particulalry if the event is taking place on a loose surface.
Events will have class structures, which are based on experience of the crew and engine capacity. Tyre wear is likely to be experienced on a targa rally and therefore it is highly recommended to take a spare set of wheels and tyres with you to ensure you can drive home legally afterwards. Tyres must comply with the relevant rules in the MSA Blue Book (the rule book for all disciplines of motorsport). Some people will buy new tyres for events, but others will talk to their local garage/tyre dealership or even negotiate with the local scrapyard to keep costs down.
What equipment do I need?
For targa rallies all you need is an a pen or pencil and your enthusiasm! A clipboard is also useful along with a rubber and highlighter pens, diagrams of the tests are provided by the organisers.
Remember that it is the competitor's responsibility to ensure that their vehicle and equipment comply with both the MSA's General Regulations (detailed in the MSA Competitors' and Officials' Yearbook) and the Supplementary Regulations (SRs) of the event or championship.
If you have any questions about vehicles or equipment you can speak to a member of the MSA Technical Department by calling 01753 765 000.