co-driven for some years, I’ve had a chance to learn from
mistakes of my own, and those of other co-drivers. I’ve
presented some tips herein to make your co-driving easier. If
you’ve got further questions about co-driving, drop me
a line, and I’ll add my answers here.
| Preparation for the event
first tip I can give is about pre-event organization. There is
nothing you can do which gives the same return on investment
as thorough preparation for the event.
Most events these days have gone to a single-service format, where the
service crew goes to one location and remains there for the day, and
the rally car returns there each time to service. This event
format has made preparing for events much easier, and reduced the
necessity of producing multiple copies of each map. However, map
marking is still a useful skill to possess.
begin, get some 1:50,000 scale maps of the area you will be competing
in. In the US, I recommend the DeLorme Gazeteer, available for
every state, and in the UK, I recommend the Ordnance Survey LandRanger series. You will need at minimum, two of each map, one for
use in the competition vehicle, and one for use by your crew.
you receive your routebook, and have your maps in hand, be sure
to mark your maps. Using either a highlighter or pencil, mark
the route of each leg, indicating special stages and transits,
as well as service locations, fuel stops, and any other points
of interest. Also mark the location of the shakedown, the recce
route, and any stops for the service vehicles during the recce. On
the competitive legs, it can be helpful to mark the approximate
times you expect to be at service and major junctions, to coordinate
with your crew. Also mark any junctions that are not as they
appear on the map with NAM (not as map), and describe them to
your service crew. Be sure that your marks are consistent across
all copies of the maps.
if you will be navigating in a city, obtain a detail city street
atlas for the city. When you arrive at the event, take notice
of any roads that have been made one-way for the event, and mark
them on this map.
will find that having these maps will make coordination with
the crew a much easier task, and they will provide invaluable
should you ever encounter a traffic jam or accident on the way
to a time control.
| Movement/Service/Recce Schedules
International events, the organizers will generally provide a
nice service schedule that you can review with your crew. On
national-level events, you’ll generally be on your own
when it comes to creating a movement schedule and service schedule
for the crews.
generally create a movement schedule that begins when the first member
of the crew leaves home, and ends when the last member of the
crew leaves the competition site. It lists the travel details for the team and every major event
and movement required, by both competition vehicle and service
vehicles, as well as the communication details for all parties, and an incident plan.
is a very simple movement
created for a single car, amateur team, running in the US national
series. You should be able to create a plan like this for any
event in about 45 minutes. Bigger teams obviously have different
requirements for their movement schedules.
I also generally produce a service plan, which lists the service
times and durations. It also lists the standard services needed at each
service stop, as well as special requirements, such as the fitting of
lights. The service plan should also include the amount of fuel
you need at each service.
If the event has reconnaissance of the stages, then I recommend that you create a similar set of schedules for the recce.
a co-driver, you’re regularly putting your safety in the
hands of another person. Trust your driver, but invest wisely
in safety equipment.
It's my experience that most of the safety equipment out there will do
a decent job of protecting you in an incident, but the more expensive
stuff pays dividends in comfort and ease-of-use. Besides, you're
a co-driver, without any car to buy or maintain, so splurge on safety
equipment. Your mom will appreciate it.
Currently, I wear a Sparco WTT-JH helmet, an Alpinestars GP Pro LM
driving suit, Sparco underwear, DC Shoes driving shoes, and a HANS 20MP
head and neck support system. Previously, I've used a Peltor G77
helmet, which I liked a great deal, and Sparco, OMP, and Stand21
driving suits, which were also quite good, though not as well-fitted as
the Alpinestars suit I currently wear.
I like and recommend the Recaro ProRacer SPG/SPA HANS
seat that I've been using since 2003. It is comfortable for 12
hours or more, is available in a standard and wide width, and has
side-impact head protection bolsters.
| Co-Driver Bag & Equipment
Happily, co-driving is more about
skills than it is equipment, and you can get by with a backpack, a #2
pencil, and an analog watch, but the right tools do make the job easier.
I use an OMP Co-driver bag. It has lots of pockets and four
external pencil slots, which allow you to grab a pencil even when
strapped in. It is significantly better than any other co-driver bag
currently on the market.
co-driver specific equipment, I recommend the following:
Pencils: Staedler Mars
780 2mm leadholders (4) with 1 dozen 2B leads. Use B leads in
temperatures over 30 degrees Celsius. These allow for making thick,
dark lines on a map or in a pacenote book, and since they’re 2mm,
they will not break, no matter what abuse they are subjected to.
Mars Plastic or Tombow Mono (2) These are the perfect erasers, able to
cleanly erase from a map without damaging the paper or leaving
CoPilote or Timex Ironman (2). The Copilote has
every function that a co-driver could want, but at the price,
you can buy 6 Ironmans. If you’re using a Coralba rally
computer (especially the C-Giant), a lot of the features of
the Co-Pilote are duplicated in the Coralba, and you can save
some money on your watch. I use 2 Ironmans.
Books: I’ve used both the TRW Sabelt and Pacenote.com books.
Both are excellent, and it is a matter of personal choice. I
find the Sabelt books a little easier to handle, due to their
smaller size, but the spine of the Pacenote.com books is slightly
superior. I find the Competitor’s Times notebook from Pacenote.com
to be excellent. If you run on a privateer team, get the Team
Manager version; you can track more cars on your own that way.
Torches/Flashlights: I use a Mini Maglite and an Black Diamond Moonlight LED headlamp.
The headlamp is ideal for use when adjusting tire pressures or
looking under the hood on a dark night. The Maglite is good for
use as a spare should both your co-driving lights go out, or
if you have alternator problems.
Pressure Gauge: The Michelin Vigil gauge is sturdy and easy to read (even drivers can do it) and has the added advantage of small
size and a dual scale readout.
following equipment is also valuable to keep in your co-driver
The relevant rulebook
Spare key for the rally car and service vehicle
Service card to make service notes
Earplugs (this can be critical in a normally aspirated car)
Goggles or protective glasses for both driver and co-driver
Hat & rainproof jacket
Spare batteries for all equipment, especially a 9v for the intercom
Calculator or Palmtop computer
Rally computer manual or quick-reference sheet
$200 cash and one credit card
Lastly, it must be said that you should be very familiar with the rally
computer you are using. If you have a choice, you simply must get
the Coralba C-Giant or C-Rally computers. The automatic special
stage functions reduce the co-driver workload significantly, and
they're a pleasure to use. Designed by a co-driver (Arne
As co-driver, it’s your responsibility to ensure that
communication between the competition vehicle and service crew is
efficient. You have basically three options for communication: mobile
phones, satellite phones, and radio communication. If you're
approaching the sport seriously, communication between the rally car
and service vehicle should be a primary priority. If you have an
accident and need repairs, being able to alert your crew so that they
have all the parts available prior to your arriving can save you 5
minutes or more in a service.
you’re competing on a professional team, satellite phones
are usually prohibitively expensive, though prices are coming down all the time. In Europe, especially the
UK and Scandinavia, mobile phones are usually sufficient. Try
to get a fairly standard model, like the Nokia 3390, and you
can connect it directly to your Peltor intercom.
the US, due to inadequate mobile phone coverage, radio communication
is generally required. If you are an amateur team, and both the
co-driver and a service crew member are licensed amateur radio
operators, amateur radio can be used. With a good 50w system
and antenna in both vehicles, range of 25 miles or more can be had in flat
terrain. If you’re running a professional team, amateur
radio use is proscribed by the FCC (US) and RA (UK). In this
case, I recommend hiring business band radio equipment for the
duration of the event.
hope this has been helpful in furthering your co-driving skills. I welcome questions, comments, or additions to
this list. Please write me at the below address.