The late British legends Colin McRae and Richard Burns became stars in the World Rally Championship but that’s only the tip of an iceberg, because in the UK alone rallying is enjoyed by thousands of competitors across dozens of championships and events.
Special Stage rallying is probably the best known branch of the discipline but navigational events on the public highway, known as Road or Navigational Rallies, have a long and successful history and are easily accessible to anyone with a road car and driving licence.
How does Rallying work?
There are two main types of stage rallies; single venue stage rallies use maps or diagrams for co-drivers and tend to take place on old airfields or motor racing circuits. Multi-venue stage rallies take place in forests, on tarmac, and when abroad snow and ice etc. Multi-venue events comprise of loops of competitive sections, or stages, and normally use pace notes; a series of descriptive notes to describe the route. Depending on the event, crews may purchase these notes or write them themselves. Stage rallies are based on straightforward speed, competing crews are timed over each stage and their total time taken determines the overall winner.
The winner is the crew (driver and co-driver) that completes them all in the lowest aggregate time. The co-drivers read pace notes or call out information from the maps/diagrams to tell their driver where to go. For multi-venue stage rallies, the co-drivers have instructions to tell the drivers how to get between stages linking road sections to ensure the car is heading the right way. Whilst these non competitive link sections have relaxed timings, the co-drivers must still ensure as a crew they arrive at each stage on time so they do not incur any penalties.
Events can last from one day to several days and this type of rallying requires a specially prepared vehicle.
How do I start?
To get involved in Stage Rallying, you’ll need a full driving licence. Then you need to buy an MSA Go Rallying pack, pass a BARS test and then apply for a Rally National B Stage Competition Licence. If you just want to co-drive, you can apply for a Navigator’s licence (non-race National B) without having to pass the BARS course.
What kind of car do I need?
For Stage Rallies you will need a car that complies with the regulations. This will generally entail modifying the car with safety components such as a roll cage, special seats and harnesses, fire extinguishers and suchlike.
You can either buy such a car new or second-hand, build your own vehicle or you can get a preparation company to modify a standard road car for you.
As Stage Rally cars have to use the public highway on multi-venue events to get between stages the car will also need to be taxed and insured with an MOT certificate, as in Road Rallying.
What equipment do I need?
Because Stage Rallying involves higher speeds on more tricky roads you will need MSA-compliant safety items such as a helmet, fireproof overalls and Frontal Head Restraint device. As a co-driver a stopwatch, clipboard, pens, highlighters, pencils, rubber and sharpener are useful.
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.