Rallying is a type of motorsport conducted in specially-built cars over an itinerary of special stages joined together by liaison or transport stages. Crews, consisting of a driver and a co-driver, drive between the set control points of the special stages, attempting to record the fastest time (measured to the second) over the whole series of special stages. The special stages of NSW rallies are usually gravel roads, set within State forests, providing competitors with a unique set of challenges. As a result, rally drivers are considered the best all-round drivers as they are used to confronting ever-changing road surfaces and circumstances over roads that they are unfamiliar with. Rally crews are always working on improving their technique, the performance of their car and their pace – it’s a fantastic challenge.
The Rally Series’
Usually, rally events are conducted as part of a rally series, and a rally series will consist of at least 4 events over the course of a year. Competitors who register for a rally series are awarded points based on their performance at each event, and at the end of the year, the series champion is announced. In 2017, there are four main rally series operating in NSW – NSW Rallysprint Series (RSS), Development Rally Series (DRS), Hyundai Rally Series (HRS) and the NSW Rally Championship.
Events in the DRS are designed to provide great value competition in a very user-friendly format, usually running on Saturday afternoons and early evenings. The regulations in the DRS are less stringent than in higher levels of rallying, and the focus here is really on having a fun weekend, rather than playing for sheep stations.
All DRS events are also events in the HRS. The HRS is a simple, one-car-make series that is an ideal starting point for new competitors. The minimal vehicle eligibility regulations encourages the focus to be on developing the skills of the crew rather than investing in the performance of the car.
NSWRC events are a step up from the DRS and HRS, with a higher standard of cars and competitors. The pace in a NSWRC is generally much quicker, and the required commitment of time and money is also more significant. These events attract a much higher degree of marketing and promotional activity, and will include ceremonial starts and media days.
After the NSWRC, the next step is the Australian Rally Championship (“ARC”), and then the World Rally Championship (“WRC”). NSW hosts a round of both of these championships annually, and they provide great spectating opportunities.
There are always two crew members in a rally car – the driver and the co-driver. Usually, the driver is also the owner of the car. The role of the driver is obvious – get the car and the co-driver through the special stages quickly and safely! The co-driver, however, also plays a very critical role in the team. Outside of the car, the co-driver is usually responsible for management of the team, which includes time-management of the driver and the service crew during service breaks. A good co-driver is organised, assertive and calm. In the car, the co-driver guides the driver through the rally course (both special stages and liaison stages) by communicating instructions from a Road Book or Pacenotes.
A successful crew will have excellent communication skills and a strong bond of trust between them.
Types of Rallies
A rally may by classified as either a blind rally or a pace-noted rally. All rounds of the DRS/HRS and some rounds of the NSWRC are blind rallies. Here, the co-driver is provided with a Road Book by the organisers that details the way through each stage and lists the turnoffs and hazards with distances to 0.01km. The co-driver, using a computer that calculates the distance travelled by the car, brings each “call” to the attention of the driver at a pre-determined interval (usually 500m prior). In a blind rally, the crew will not have seen the roads before they reach them at competitive speeds.
ARC, WRC and some NSWRC events are pacenoted instead. With a pacenoted event, the crew will have the opportunity to drive over the special stages at non-competitive speeds and write a detailed set of notes of all the crests and corners in the stage. These notes are then read back to the driver as the crew contests the stages. It’s like Colin McRae Rally on your PlayStation.
A rallysprint is a short, compact version of a rally where competitors tackle between 1 to 4 special stages 2-3 times. NSW rallysprints are usually held on gravel surfaces, sometimes in forests and sometimes at special “bush” venues. Each stage is between 3km and 8km in length and only the fastest time recorded on each stage contributes to the results. Like a rally, a good co-driver is essential, and in a rallysprint, the crews will add detail to the course instructions on the first pass in order to be able to go a lot faster on the later passes and record a faster time.
Touring Assemblies and Touring Road Events
As they are run in NSW, Touring Road Events (“TREs”) and Touring Assemblies (“TAs”) are considered entry-level motorsport under the umbrella of rally. Based on the rallies of the 50s and 60s and revived in the 90s, they are generally navigational events, run on public roads and using ‘classic cars’. The challenge of these events is not speed – public roads, remember – but working out the navigation and plotting the route on the map.
The main difference between TREs and TAs is that timing is only allowed on TREs – that means, a target time may be set for arrival at certain controls. This adds a whole new dimension to the challenge. Points are lost for things such as missed observations, missed or wrong entry into controls and in TREs, late or early entry to controls.
The length of these events varies but is usually around 300-350 kms per day. Events may run over one day or two, and are usually run on sealed roads, although some events will include some gravel roads also.
There are several clubs in NSW that run TREs and TAs. These include Classic Rally Club, Australian Historic Rally Group and the recently formed Historic Rally Club of NSW & ACT. Although there is no state series, most clubs run a championship series within their own club and these are seriously contested. You can find out about the next TRE or TA by downloading the calendar and contacting the organisers.TA/TRE Calendar