Observations from a first time drive on stage notes
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Thread: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

  1. #1
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    Default Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    After running STPR many times on routebooks, I tried my first go driving on stage notes. The experience was not totally new, as I had the chance to co-drive on them several times last year, so I do not think my experience had any 'transition' problems, in regards to what to expect.

    The positives:
    1) Many more instructions, more often, so one had a better picture of the road immediately ahead. (This could have really made a difference on the fastest, flowing stage, if the car was not running at 60% power!) This allowed a bit more attack on some turns, but I am sure I did not take full advanatage of this.
    2) Possibly more comfort and less sweat

    The negative:
    3) I found in the mid-portion of the rally that I was "imagining" the corner more ahead of time, and slipping in use of my visual read of the characteristics of the corner. I did this on one R3 corner and suddenly 'snapped' myself out of it, realizing that I was slipping into to something between a red-mist situation and thinking I was sitting in front of a video game. BAAAAAAD! I forced myself back into full road-reading mode.

    I think I need to run some satges that I have never run before, with notes, to get a full assessment of their value. I have always thought that the real benefit was to let new competitors hired for the big teams to be on more fo an equal footing when coming over here to compete with the US 'locals' who have been over the present ProRally stage roads many times. (This is not to say it is a bad thing.)

    My feelings against stage notes for ClubRallies remain the same:
    a) They can be more dangerous if not used properly and are not a good substitute for learning to read the roads. The makers of the notes are explicit in saying that they do not include information on the exact nature of each turn, only the radius. They do not note the camber, gravel content, road base materials, and degree of crown on turns; this is left as 'an exercise for the reader'. This is the value of learning to read the roads. For this reason, I'll continue to oppose their introduction in Club events.
    b) The expense cannot be justified for younger competitors, trying to start out on their own finances. With the difficulty of moving up in seed to qualify for a Pro event, the introduction of notes in Club events will make the gap between the 'have's' and the 'have-nots' even greater. Since this is a club, I do not want anymore financial burden to be added onto the expenses that have to be borne, in perticular for those just starting out.

    Regards,
    Mark B.

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  3. #2
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    hi there

    interested in your thoughts on stage notes...

    re your learning to read the road..

    how do you read a blind jump in a club rally...

    is it more dangerous to know what happens over the crest or more safe if you know that the road goes left or right after the crest..

    i cannot agree with your decision to oppose stage notes for club rallies....based on your argument..
    the problem is that not everyone is going to slow down just because they cant be sure whats over the hill...because the competition is so intense at the front this is the difference of winning or losing..

    how about if some particular group was willing to absorb the extra cost of notes..

    would you be in favour or not..

    learning to read the road is great for left and right etc..but it does not work for blind jumps..

    any thoughts

    regards
    niall d

  4. #3
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    >the problem is that not everyone is going to slow down just
    >because they cant be sure whats over the hill...because the
    >competition is so intense at the front this is the
    >difference of winning or losing..<

    Niall,

    Stage Notes will not solve the problem of overly-gonzo amature Drivers and/or Codrivers that take excessive risk. A Driver's level head and the ability to "read the road" are the most effective Safety Tools.

    A driver can be cautioned about a jump equally as well with a Tulip Comment in a Route Book as with Stage Notes. But, this caution must still be properly conveyed to the Driver, on time, by the Codriver. My personal opinion is that a frazeled or inexperienced Codriver is less likely to get lost in a Route Book than Stage Notes. Numbered on-stage "Course Marker Flags" noted in the Route Book can help Codrivers keep their place. But considering the range of possible Codriver errors, the necessity for Drivers being able to "read the road" becomes even more important.

    I agree with Mark's first impression here. In addition, I have always been opposed to increased ClubRally cost. ClubRally should be the place where the rudiments and techniques of performance rallying can be learned by amatures and practiced for a lifetime.

    Rich Smith

    Vive le "Pro-le-Ralliat"

  5. #4
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    hi there

    I dont disagree with the need to learn to read the road...however
    the problem i see that has developed in Club rallies is:

    the route books for the most part are re used from year to year and date back in some cases quite far to a time when the cars were lower hp and maybe not going as fast as now..
    so that a crest with single caution is now 5 feet of air and 30 foot jump..

    we need a standardized system, call it anything you like but if something is not done to either check all route books keeping in mind the speed of the front cars and how a road is going to look at that speed, then be sure more accidents are on the way..

    how would you feel about a detailed route book and course arrowing,
    if some particular group took on the extra financial burden of making the arrows and placing on the route?

    a little bit of topic....but
    restiction needed on type of car that a beginner can use...
    this should be the first issue dealt with..

    regards
    niall d

  6. #5
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    But...

    Even the stage notes don't tell you all you need to know about blind crests.

    Just because the road is straight after the jump does not mean you do not need to slow down.

    I have experienced this on Mandam at LSPR when the jump was double or triple cautioned but our odo was out and all I saw was the finish flag. The landing was very heavy the struts went thru the towers and we were lucky to not exit the road. (route book)

    Also on Brockway there is a big yump before the big yump. I hit that this year with more speed than I would have liked. All was fine, but at the clubrally level in PGT I do not need or want to fly as far as I can, I need to conserve the equipment a bit. (Notes)

    More examples were at Ojibwe last year when Ryhs broke the car over a series of yumps. (Notes)

    So the point is YES we need better INFORMATION, YES we need to update our route books. But Notes do not solve the problem of a blind crest.

    I am in agreement with:
    1) Old Route Books are inadequate
    2) Notes are not appropriate at our curent club level.

    For those running at the front, it is a pretty equal playing feild and if the route book is not adequate tell the clerk of the course if they will not update the book, get your fellow competitors to skip that rally. Those who run at the front have a big voice if they work together to solve problems.

    Regards,
    Mike



  7. #6
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    Hi Niall,

    Thanks for the thoughtful post; your points are very germane to this discussion, and are good points to consider.

    >is it more dangerous to know what happens over the crest or
    >more safe if you know that the road goes left or right after
    >the crest..

    My replies to this:
    a) The same information can be included in a route book as to what is over a crest as in stage notes.
    b) The danger level of going over a blind crest has nothing to do with the information about the road after crest if the information is CORRECTLY presented in a route book or on stage notes. If you have good knowledge of the road past the crest, the danger level is then set 100% by the driver (assuming the co-driver calls it out!).


    >
    >i cannot agree with your decision to oppose stage notes for
    >club rallies....based on your argument..
    >the problem is that not everyone is going to slow down just
    >because they cant be sure whats over the hill...because the
    >competition is so intense at the front this is the
    >difference of winning or losing..

    Yes you are right. The level of agressiveness is a LARGE factor nowadays in final placing in rallies. This HAS changed A LOT over the last 5 years or so. But a good routebook or stage notes will not change the level of danger. It can only be based on the level of driver aggressiveness. Let me illustarte:
    I had the priviledge of riding with a very taleneted young driver a while back. His skills in car handling were well above mine. I was a bit scared at first but after a while I could see he could handle the car superbly (although I observed to him that only his fast, young reflexes were saving him in some cases!) . BUT, the one excpetion was on blind crests. He would hit these with no lifting at all. We were on ice, on a 1-1/2 lane wide road lined by dense trees. Any small perturbation in entering one crest would have landed us a bit sideways, and the outcome of a slightly sideways hit on ice at 80 mph on a narrow road is usually bad. I pleaded for him to slow down on the crests: he absolutely ignored me. He only slowed down after a landing that was so hard that my chest was hurt from hitting the belts, and the rear suspension was bent. I think even he was a bit overcome.

    This had nothing to do with use routebooks or stage notes. The crests were well marked in the routebook, with cautions; the treeline was easy to read. It all had to do with driver aggressiveness, AND use of good judgement.

    In reviewing my 2 paragraphs above, I see one more factor entering into this that I did not mention in the orignal post: judgement. This is another factor, along with driver aggressiveness, that is everything in using stage note or routebook info well. Again, I will reiterate my point that stage notes have limited info in them, a fact that is explicitly pointed out by the folks who make them, and this has nothing to safe use of the info. Any overly aggressive driving or just plain lack of judgement will have a bad end.

    I truly believe that the level of info in a routebook, if done right, works fine and is a good training tool IN THE FACT THAT IS DOES LEAVE MUCH INFO OUT FOR THE DRIVER TO FIGURE OUT. A driver DOES have to develop a sense of caution in approaching blind action points when running from aroutebook. If he or she does not, the end will be bad. But, stage notes do nothing to help this for learners.

    I'll reiterate: stage notes serve the function of equalizing the knowledge of the road, but do NOT intrinsicily make a stage safer versus a good routebook. The consistency of the stage notes generated for ProRally that we have at a significant cost versus the variabiliy in the routebook info is the key factor that I think you are trying to fix. I have seen pelenty of good routebooks to know that they can be done well.

    >
    >how about if some particular group was willing to absorb the
    >extra cost of notes..
    >
    >would you be in favour or not..

    I am willing to listen. I think a large part of this argument is whether folks want a stage note format or tulip routebooks. If the cost were the same, I would go with the majority; this is a club situation. If the majority wants stage notes, and they REALLY are free, then I am in.

    However, you have to show me concrete proof that stage notes would cost $0 now and forever. Form my standpoint, this would have to come in the form of long term contract with someone to do the notes, at no charge, with their financing for this coming from somewhere that is clearly identified. I hate to be such a prick on this point, but I am the sales business, and I know all too well how easy it is to say that something will be done to convince somebody to buy off, but with no real commitment behind it. (PS: I am not at all saying you would do this Niall; I just know this HAS to be paid for, and it has to be set up right to work. I would have NO CONDFIDENCE if the SCCA Performance rally dept said this would happen with no cost to the club rallyists.)

    One other factor to discuss: Are the fellows from Europe used the having stage notes or pace notes at EVERY event? You can probably answer this for us. If so, is part of this division of opinion just a simple level of discomfort with routbooks for some of the rally community who are very familiar and comfortable with a different system??
    >
    >learning to read the road is great for left and right
    >etc..but it does not work for blind jumps..
    I can't totally agree, but that's a minor point.

    Thanks for reading my post carefully and your thoughtful comments. I always like your well done inputs in these discussions.

    Regards,
    Mark B.

  8. #7
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes


    >
    >the route books for the most part are re used from year to
    >year and date back in some cases quite far to a time when
    >the cars were lower hp and maybe not going as fast as now..
    >so that a crest with single caution is now 5 feet of air and
    >30 foot jump..

    You make a very good point, Niall; the cars have changed a LOT (and, I would claim, so have the perceptions on what is safe driving, that are carried into the sport by many of the newer folks).
    >
    >we need a standardized system, call it anything you like but
    >if something is not done to either check all route books
    >keeping in mind the speed of the front cars and how a road
    >is going to look at that speed, then be sure more accidents
    >are on the way..

    I am 100% in favor of routebook reivews and some better degree of stanadardization.

    >
    >how would you feel about a detailed route book and course
    >arrowing,
    >if some particular group took on the extra financial burden
    >of making the arrows and placing on the route?

    Good things; now prove to me the source of the long term finanacial backing and I will be on-board with you. (See my prior post for detials of why I ask this.)
    >
    >a little bit of topic....but
    >restiction needed on type of car that a beginner can use...
    >this should be the first issue dealt with..

    I was about to comment here, but yes, this is another topic! One that has had lost of air-time on the forum already!

    Regards,
    Mark B.

  9. #8
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    Mark,

    Overall I agree with your original comments.

    Stage notes really only make much sense competitively if you are willing, as a driver, to drive by your codriver's calls rather than strictly by your eyes. Once we got the rhythm of this we found it to cut our stage times pretty well. This is their advantage, but based on recent experience, I don't buy the "added safety" argument that has been put forward (an argument I found tenuous at best even before our experience at STPR this year).

    Unfortunately if stage notes are used as intended, a missed call or a mis-perception of a call is going to have much worse consequences . . . a hairpin with a tree that in previous years I would have relatively crept up to on route book came up way to damn fast on stage notes because Driver found himself unable to process a lot of stuff happening over the intercom all at once. In this particular case, there was no room for error and the tree won. An inexperienced team? - not hardly, this was our fifth STPR, fourth rally on stage notes, so I don't think so - we both knew the nature of the roads at STPR. The fault of the stage notes? No, they seemed to be well-constructed. The problem was the fault of an experienced Team learning a new tool and having a failure in that system. If it wasn't us, it could have easily been any one of a whole bunch of other teams. It's a risk one takes as one tries to get to the next level.

    Regarding beginners, I have to think that adding stage notes right out of the box has the potential to do more harm than good. Subverting learning basic technique in both seats in order to also learn stage notes seems like a prescription for worse crashes and more disasters during the early (and steep) part of the learning curve, especially in these times of relatively easily accessible very powerful and fast rally cars. I think where the line is drawn (ClubRally? Lower seeds? X number of rallies? Attendance at rally schools?) is the discussion that needs to be had.

  10. #9
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    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    >we need a standardized system, call it anything you like but
    >if something is not done to either check all route books
    >keeping in mind the speed of the front cars and how a road
    >is going to look at that speed, then be sure more accidents
    >are on the way..

    >how would you feel about a detailed route book and course
    >arrowing, if some particular group took on the extra financial burden
    >of making the arrows and placing on the route?

    Niall,

    Organizers here in the Northwest already write detailed books and have used numbered course marker flags for as long as I can remember. So, I don't think we have quite the same problem.

    I'm not an organizer and do not presume to speak for them. But, my observation is that Northwest Organizers already regard preparation of "detailed" Route Books and Course Markers Flags as part of their minimum prepartation standard. I don't think an "extra financial burden" is at issue here. It's already factored-in.

    Rich Smith

    Vive le "Pro-le-Ralliat"


  11. #10

    Default RE: Observations from a first time drive on stage notes

    This doesn't seem overly complex to me:

    You have three tools:

    1. Car control
    2. Judgement (including about the road, the fineness of car controllability, and the quality of the notes, and also the amount held in "reserve" for error in all three factors)
    3. Information about the road (be it route, course, or pace notes)

    The key is that you inflect the information with the judgement. All that the critics of notes for beginners are saying is that they don't yet have the judgement to interpret and rely on the enhanced information provided by course notes. But then do you think that they have the judgement to rely on a route book that is much more subjectively-drawn? To drive entirely blind? To even control the car in the first place?

    As someone with reasonable car control and passable judgement (although on both you can and some may argue otherwise!), I always want as much accurate information as possible about the roads. I only feel fully secure using pace notes that I have written. Short of that you have to put yourself in the head of whoever wrote the notes in order to judge how good they are and determine the degree on which you will rely on them.

    The advantage of course notes is that they are pretty reliable and consistent. The consistency of route books? Don't even get me started. Unless I know who made them and can rely on that person's judgement, forget it. At best they're just someone's amateur guess as to how it's going to be when driven in anger (especially given the small population of people who really have been flat out in an open-class AWD turbo). I broke a rear link (and five other teams damaged their cars or themselves) on a rally where a crest marked as a no-caution "bump" had a huge drop on the other side that was probably not such a big deal at 30km/h but what was a major incident at 120km/h.

    So would you rather have beginners relying on that level of subjectivity (that caught all of us out even at the front of the pack on a national-level rally) or on something that is very consistent (course notes)?

    I say this: allow course notes everywhere for their consistency, and allow beginners to focus their judgement on how much to rely on those high-quality notes, rather than how much to rely on a subjective route book.

    Cost is certainly an issue. I don't pretend to know what to do. I suspect what Niall is suggesting is to have the leading cars bear the brunt of the cost, but he may have something else in mind. Maybe a sponsor?

    But no notes for Club rallies? Frankly, I think the top 5 competitors in any NE Club event are only a shade slower (and no less agressive) than perhaps the second 5 on any Pro event in the country. We all know that "Club" has become an artificial distinction. It's just "Regional" and allows the raw beginners too.

    You wanna have some way to vet beginners' judgement? Do what all other forms of motorsport do to vet their judgement - make them go to a school - and not just about the proper placement of triangles, but on how fast they can go, how much to rely on notes, and how much margin to keep in hand. And if they go off road in two of their first three events, make them go back to the school. Observe them. Probation them.

    Then let them go out and be idiots like the rest of us.

    ACP
    www.musketeerracing.com
    Flirting with the laws of physics.

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