What is Road Rally?
Simply put, road rallying is a nice drive on a country road.
Clearly there is a bit more to it more to it than that. Road rallying is one the least expensive forms of automobile competition that exists, yet despite its low cost, it is still very challenging and fun. Road rallying is a test of skill and precision driving, not absolute vehicle muscle. Each car is usually given a set of written instructions and sent off on public roads at timed intervals. Each team attempts to follow the course correctly while maintaining a given (but always legal) speed. No special vehicle preparation is required to be competitively in most road rallies; in fact many drive their everyday car in the events.
Road Rallying is a lot of fun. “It is the most fun you can legally have in a car on a public road” and “The best part about road rallying... No Previous Experience Required”.
Road rallies can be broadly subdivided into three groups:
1) GTA or Game-Tour-Adventure Rallies
2) Tour Rallies
3) Course or Trap rallies
Game-Tour-Adventure (GTA) Rally
formerly known as gimmick rallies, are an excellent way to introduce yourself and others to the sport of road rally. Normally a GTA rally will have some puzzle to solve or some sort of game to play along a preset rally route. The type of game is usually limited only by the imagination of the Rallymaster. Trivial Pursuit™ and Jeopardy™ are some of the games often played on a GTA rally.
They usually takes the form of a sign hunt where contestants must search for answers to questions (or the questions for the answers) using the road signs along the way. Clue™ is another common game that is often used in a GTA rally. In this case the road signs provide clues to whodunit. A poker run, where competitors draw a playing card at different locations along the way (best poker hand wins), is also a form of GTA. Most GTA rallies combine elements of luck with skill, though some are purely one or the other. Either way, they are a fun way to spend the afternoon and are often as much fun to set up, as they are to compete in.
These are a type of Time-Speed-Distance (TSD) rally. In this form of road rally, teams navigate a preset route that has a calculated average speed. Competitors are given route instructions that outline the rally course and are the speed(s) that they have to drive. The challenge is to maintain the average speed and arrive on time at (usually) unknown locations along the route, known as checkpoints. Competitors score well when they complete sections known as legs close to the ideal calculated leg time. Penalty points are assessed for arriving either too early OR too late at the checkpoint when compared with the calculated ideal time. Cars do not compete directly against each other; rather teams start each leg at a preset time interval (usually one minute intervals) and follow the route set by the rallymaster. The team completing the event with the lowest total score (lowest number of penalties) is the winner. Rally routes typically make use of public roads. Each team consists of a driver and navigator that work in concert to follow the route, striving to remain on-course and on-time. This type of rally is the most difficult test of a rally team, as the driver and navigator must work together to maintain the required average speed and ensure that they remain on course and on schedule.
Also known as Trap Rallies, are another type of TSD rally – It is fundamentally the same as Tour TSD events however the route instructions are usually different. Instead of simple, clear instructions that you receive on a tour rally, course rally routes are usually based upon a set of precisely defined rules. Throughout the course, the rallymaster attempts to set traps, or trick you into either driving off-course, or off-time. Off-course routes are always designed such that both the on-and-off-course routes rejoin before the checkpoint. Course rallies can be the most contentious form of road rallying. Some competitors absolutely thrive on the challenge of out-thinking the rally master and figuring out the correct rally route with the minimum clues provided by the instructions. Yet other rallyists find this style of rally frustrating, and prefer to stick to tours. If you enjoy problem-solving and a battle of wits during your country drives, then course rallies are for you.
Regardless of which form of rally you compete in or how well you score, rallying is a lot of fun! If you like to spend time driving in your car, see some scenery and spending time with congenial people, you’ll love the sport of road rally.