There are two main forms of this branch of the motorsport, stage rallies and navigational rallies all run under the auspices of the MSA (Motor Sports Association).
The sport is distinguished by running in a point-to-point format in which participants and their co-drivers drive between pre-determined control points allotted a target time. They are set off at regular intervals (usually one minute) from one or more start points. Penalties are awarded to crews (driver and navigator) for additional time incurred over the set target time.
Stage Rallies are based on straightforward speed over stretches of asphalt or gravel tracks and may incorporate mountain passes, forest tracks, closed roads and conditions varying from desert sand to ice and snow. Competing crews are timed over each test or stage and their cumulative penalty times determine the overall event results. Non competitive link sections between the stages often on public roads have more relaxed timing, however if this is exceeded additional penalties are applied.
Event duration can be from less than one day to several days for world championship events to several weeks for some classic endurance rallies. Venues can be multiple or single depending on the status of the event.
This branch of rallying tends to require a more specialist prepared vehicle, some form of support crew and service vehicle, with event entry fees reflecting the considerable expense of hiring off road venues and increased organisational costs. Generally it is the more experienced crews that compete in this discipline.
Navigational rallies are run on public roads at speeds averaging no more than 30mph and place the emphasis on navigation between the pre-determined points. A standard road going car is all that’s required with some form of map reading light.
With other clubs locally we run a series of events grouped under the heading of navigational rallies. There are a number of variations on these including treasure hunts, scatter rallies, 12 car rallies.
Scatter rallies are an excellent introduction to the sport of rallying. They are run in the evening and start at a public venue (usually a pub) where crews sign on and at the allotted time issued with a sheet of paper containing various plot points on a map. For each plot there will be a unique answer required to the respective question relating to that precise location e.g. number on a telegraph pole, name on a sign, fire hydrant number etc. This confirms they have visited that location.
They then normally have two hours to plot as many of these points and visit the locations to pick up the relevant answers. Final positions are determined by the number of correct answers returned and penalties per minute late are applied to those crews returning past the specified time.
12 Car Rallies
A 12 Car Rally’s are open to a maximum of 12 competing crews and cater for both novices and experts alike. The object, on your allotted start time is to visit each main time control and intermediate passage controls in turn, according to the route information issued at the start.
Starting from a pre determined point (usually a garage, pub or public car park) crews are set off at one minute intervals with enough route information to get them to the next time control. They then have to decipher the route information which is normally straight forward map references for novices and in a more cryptic form for experts and then drive the shortest route between the points to arrive at the next control, where they are issued with more information to get them to the next control and so on until the finish.
Crews are allowed to drop time throughout the event to a maximum of 30 minutes which if difficulties have occurred with the navigation (and they normally do!) might mean taking a short cut to get to the control on time in order to stay in the event. Penalty points are added to the overall time lost if for example controls (time or proof of passage) are missed. The winner is the crew who drop the least time and have the least number of fails.
Regularity Rallies are similar in concept to 12 car events run in daylight hours (normally Sunday morning) and have a target average speed between controls. This varies from section to section. Secret controls on the route record how well the crew are keeping to time. The timing and average speed is calculated by the navigator manually from odometer readings and a stopwatch or more accurately using a rally trip meter and the driver then adjusts his pace accordingly. Final results are calculated on navigational and average speed accuracy.