Whether you’re preparing for a private rally race, or you intend to enter one of the many professionally organised rallies held across the UK each year, the right preparation is vital. Both you and your car must be ready to take on the rigors of the road. For new teams, this can be quite challenging, but a few simple tips will go a long way toward easing your entry to this type of competition.
Realise You Are Not Racing Others
With many types of racing, there is wheel-to-wheel competition. You’ll be side by side with other cars as you take turns on the track and attempt to muscle past one another in straightaways. That’s not the case with rallies. Groups leave the start line in timed intervals. You’re only racing against yourself here. It’s about time, not head-to-head competition. Realise this early on and hold onto that as you power through the race.
Learn to Actively Read the Road Surface
Racers in all environments must pay attention to the driving surface, but it is even more important in rallying. You’ll be running on rough tarmac, or mixed surface, or just gravel. You’ll be driving on a surface that dozens of other cars have already torn up, and riding in ruts left by local vehicles over the years. You must learn to actively read the road’s surface and prepare for the traction (or lack thereof) that you’ll have.
The Key to Rally Success Is Planning
Endurance. Driving skill. Navigational accuracy. These are all important elements in rallying but planning trumps everything else. Without good planning, even the most skilled team will lose. With good planning, even the greenest driver has a chance to succeed. Plan well, and plan well ahead. You need to plan your main course of action, and then have a contingency for every possibility.
Build Rapport with Your Navigator
Every rally team consists of two people – the driver and a navigator. Your success hinges on the ability for the two of you to work well together under pressure. As such, you need to build rapport early on. Get to know one another. Learn each other’s strengths and weaknesses, and how you both perform when the heat is on. You can choose just about anyone you want for your team, depending on the rally you are entering, but make sure that it is someone with whom you can work well, and whom you can tolerate for long periods of time.
Give Your Body the Care It Needs
It’s tempting to simply chow down on sugary snacks and energy drinks in an attempt to keep your energy levels up over the course of a race that might last for several days. However, realise that this will ultimately backfire. You need real food and rest in order to perform at your peak, and that’s where you need your performance to stay for the duration of the race. Take care of yourself and your navigator.
In the end, rallying can be incredibly fun and challenging, but it does require that you do some preparation first.