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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I am going to be assisting in recce for Rally NY. This is the teams first time with stage notes. What kind of extra notes should we be making? What should we be looking for? How long should it take? How many times should we go through the stages? etc, any help is appreciated.
 

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www.christianedstrom.com
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>I am going to be assisting in recce for Rally NY. This is
>the teams first time with stage notes.

First off, don't make any additional notes to the roadbook (route book). I saw this was specifically allowed in the Rally NY supp regs, but is the dumbest, most dangerous idea ever. Recce is for notes. Period.

Here's the text of an email I sent to a Canadian competitor a few weeks ago (btw, 2 or 3 more of these threads, and I won't have any secrets left, and can retire!):

I can certainly provide some information about setting up a recce
schedule, and how to organize it all, but a lot of the skill comes in
actually writing the notes, and that is something that you best achieve together with your driver. That is, there are lots of little skills that the co-driver should know (how to number pages, how to decide where to insert line breaks etc), but a lot of it is also up to the driver to make good notes.

Assuming all that, there are basically some simple things to keep in mind.

1. Pre-recce planning

When the recce schedule gets published, have a sit with the crew chief, and look over the map of the stages, and the times allotted for recce on each stage. If your crew is already at the event, it is worthwhile for them to meet you at the end of every second stage or so, in case you have a problem, or to hand off food/drink etc. Recce days are usually more intense than race day, so if they can get food etc, it's very helpful. Also, if they are in either the service vehicle or a rental car, if your recce/rental/rally
car breaks down when you're recce'ing, you can just swap cars at the end of stage and keep going, without any delay.

2. Notewriting (driver)

Tell the driver to keep a steady pace (maybe 35-50 km/h, depending on his experience) and keep driving, no matter what. As he drives, he should call out the turns as he's in them (on or near the apex). The flow should be steady and even. On straights, he should call the straight based on his perception - do not use the Coralba as a guide to how long straights are -- the actual distance is not as important as his perception.

Tell him: NEVER STOP. NEVER BACK UP. NEVER LOOK IN THE MIRROR.

If he thinks he's mistaken on a specific call. eg maybe that L4 was really an L3+, just mark it as L4 ?, and call it as Left Four Maybe on the second pass. He should not second-guess his opinion on corners. He should keep driving and get used to the recce process.

3. Notewriting (co-driver)

When writing notes, be concerned with where the line breaks and page breaks go, and think about how notes go together as a sentence. For instance, the following line of notes.

R4 150 L4- 50 R3- kinks 250 R6 -> L4 -> R3+ 150

should be split into something like:

R4 150
L4- 50 R3-
kinks 250
R6 -> L4 -> R3+ 150

reasons being, you always break the line at a distance 150 or greater, and always after a slow corner L3- or less. That way, either the car is going slow enough that missing the next call isn't a problem, or you have enough time to sort out what the next call is. Same thing is true for page breaks.

If you have a 200 L6 -> R5 -> !L3, especially where you'll be going full tilt, you do not want a page break anywhere in that sequence. Especially not between the 200 & L6. (Unless you make a note at the bottom of the preceding page with the full sequence.)

If you want to, you can put overall mileages at the beginning of the page. I usually don't bother, but it might be a good idea, especially if you get lost when getting out to change a tire. Figuring 1km/page is good enough for me.

4. 2nd Pass

On the second pass, have the driver drive 50-70kmh and call the notes with the correct pacing. The pauses will be longer, because you won't be going quick, but you should still read "R6/cr 200" not "R6...../cr.......200"

Make sure that the driver corrects anything he feels is incorrect, and add any information he thinks will be helpful. Also you need to think of what sections will come quickly. Underline any notes that will need to be read in immediate succession. If you come upon a section that becomes tighter but you will still be carrying lots of speed, (eg, goes from L6 lg R5 lg to R4- L3+ R4+), mark it with a # sign. This is your sign that the reading will become intense.

5. Clean-up (co-driver)

Two schools of thought on this - copy it out, or erase and clean-up.

First, it should be about 1km/page, and I number my pages from the end of the stage to the start. Why? So when the driver shears of the suspension upright, or does some other dumb driverly thing, and asks, how many km left 'til the end, I just look up at the page number and say 5km, if the page number is 5. Smart, huh? Mark the corner of the first page in dark pencil, so it is easy to find. If you have two books, write on the front and back which is which day.

You can either take your existing book and try to clean it up. If you make neat notes during the recce, this is usually a pretty good idea, because it is quick. Keep a spare piece of paper with you, and follow the following process: When you find a note that needs cleaning up, write the note on the piece of paper, then erase it from the book, and then write it into the book again. I once erased a note, got a phone call, and went back to write the note to find I had no idea what it was. That's a lesson you don't need to
learn on your own...

Alternately, you can copy out the entire book to another book. Tedious, but good if you're a messy recce'er, or not going to stick with the driver forever, because you get two copies.

If you're a perfectionist, you'll do the latter, but it's 80% more work for 10% benefit, so perhaps its a waste of time.

Oh, and equipment. For pencils, use Staedler 780c 2mm leadholders, with graphite in 2B hardness. For erasers, use Tombow, Penol, or Staedler-Mars, in that order. For books, use Pacenote.com or TRW pacenote books, or whatever else has an easy-to-remove spine. I like TRW because they are A5 format, but the pacenote.com spine is better.

Anyway, that's all I can think of for now. Any more questions, fire away. Oh, and FWIW, there is a major dearth of good co-drivers in N. America right now. So there are plenty of good rides available. Oh, and Dave Kean is a mega co-driver, so he might be someone to talk to as well.

Cheers,
- Christian

Bjorn Christian Edstrom
www.christianedstrom.com
 

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Slid'n around 'n havin a ball
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Wow!
That should help all the co-drivers, but he can only write what the driver tells him so here are my driver tips...
If you have used Jemba notes, it makes it a lot easier because you know what they sound like, if not, find some to look over, go to Pete Lamm's site and look them over and mine to see/hear them in action.
Try to estimate the gear needed to take the corner, add long, extra long or short and tightens/opens, esprecially tightens.
I try to visualize a football field to guess distances, under 20 or even 50 is kind of a waste. If you think you'll be flat thru a turn with 100 to a hairpin, you better put "brake" in there rather than R6 100 L1, in fact, I go to descriptive for 1s and 2s because it stands out in the cadence, "R6 100 Brake HAIRPIN L". Hearing R4, L3, R5, R4, R3, L6, L1 doesn't always register in my little brain like it should.
When calling notes on recce, I add dips, crests (of any amount) uphills and downhills so that I can have additional info to compare the notes to the corners in case we get off pace from a goofup... there will be goofups.
Adding "don't cut"s may be good, but remember, if this is a first-time, don't go overboard using tricks and take it easy, trying to push too hard with questionable information and brain processing probably isn't the wisest thing to do. Save the lap record setting for when you've survived a couple of these and use it as a test, not a competition. You may be suprised how well you do!
rz
 

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Dirt surfer
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Couple more recce considerations. At RNY, all teams get supplied Jemba stage notes.

If supplied stage notes are new to you or your driver, use recce to simply learn the language of notes. If you've run on Jemba notes before, use recce to start learning how to write your own notes--it's a totally valuable skill set.

Running recce with supplied notes: BCE's advice of not marking these up is right-on. Use the recce to establish a sense of the different grades and distances between instructions. Watch especially the "intos" and "ands" because distances will seem MUCH shorter at stage speed. Highlight tricky combos. Pay particular attention to major speed changes: L5 300 R3>L2 is the kind of thing that can really bite you, 'cause you'll be hauling butt into a tight section.

One exception to the don't-mark-up-Jemba advice. Watch for and note landmarks to help you find your way back onto the notes when (not if) you get off 'em. "Cabin on L" or "flat-top boulder on R" will supply heaven-sent info to help you get back onto the notes. Generally don't read these landmark notes to your driver on a hot stage unless you're off the notes, in which case reading out a landmark proves to driver you're back on and increases their confidence level dramatically.

Strategize transits and fuel stops on recce. Watch for turnouts after finish controls where you can safely stop and change a flat or beat out a bent fender, for instance.


Writing own notes: If you're new to this, concentrate on keeping the language simple, consistent, and clear. Resist the urge to over-inform until you're well up the learning curve. Don't second-guess your driver as they read out what they see...their perception is what counts, not yours! Make sure to note mileages and landmarks a couple of times on each page to help you find your way back onto the notes when needed. Double-check these landmark/mileage notes on second pass.

When noting own mileages, pay close attention to where the stage starts, because actual stage start is often different from what's in the routebook. As you approach a stage start on recce, zero your odo at a landmark BEFORE the start, so if the start changes you're still OK on your mileages. Don't sweat minor mileage drift from wheelspin, you'll just have to develop a sense of that as you progress on stage.

RNY prohibits recce in rally cars, so beware visibility differences between your recce vehicle and race car. If you recce in the haul truck, you'll have much greater visibility over crests. You may want to add info about crests like "Keep L" or "Keep R" to minimize surprises.

Enough rambling for now. However you do recce, remember it's an opportunity for you and your driver to figure things out beforehand in (reasonably) controlled conditions. Saves a LOT of stress when you're flying sideways down a hot stage!

Cheers,

Dave G
Co-Pilote and Chief Scribe
Last Ditch Racing
"...Embrace loose gravel, beware big trees..."
 

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As Dave's designated wheel twiddler, I'll second a couple of things and perhaps add a couple.

The tip to zero your odo on recce at a landmark BEFORE the stage start is key. The stage start may have to be moved on race day, so if you right your notes without regard for the start, then you're in good shape. There is no need to get hung up with starting that stage at 0.0 miles with notes.

As an example, at RIQ, Dave and I zero'd the ODO at a bridge prior to the start of a stage. The stage start was irrelevant in terms of mileage from that point on. What was relevant was what the next call was.

Second, marking landmarks within the stage is key. You WILL get off the notes at some point in your career. Having a landmark to get back on will make your life much easier. Marking these landmarks in the routebook can also be helpful in case you have to default to those due to some failure of your notes. I've seen posts of teams that start on their notes and then return to the routebook during the event.

Christian's point about relative distances and not actual distances is also very important. Perception is the key. At Rally Defi, there were some very long straights. I told Dave to write a note this way, R3 --> Spank! We had an almost straight section that was very long. Our next note was actually a landmark/mileage so we had an idea of where to brake for the next tight section.

Work with your driver to develop common definition of turns. You don't have to make your definition conform to someone else's. If you want to call a corner a 2 instead of a 3, that's cool as long as you both know what it means. I tend to call my corners a bit conservative and then adjust my driving when we're at speed based on how that's working. If I find that I can drive most of the 3s as 4s that's ok. I don't want to find out that my 4s were actually 3s! ;-)

Tim O'Neil told me something I will NEVER forget. "If you stop listening to your co-driver, figure out why and fix it!" If I'm ignoring the co-driver, it's either because he's off the notes or I don't have confidence in what he's saying. Either way, we have to fix the situation, or I have to slow down!

The driver should be calling the corners. Occassionally Dave will chime in or I'll ask him to help figure out how we should call it. He can't see the road well when we're racing and only slightly better when we're doing recce as he's busy writing notes.

Initially, less information is better than more. Stick with corners, distances and cautions with your first events.

You'll have more fun with notes than you ever did at an event! :)

Cheers! John
 

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Forgot to mention one thing about RNY...I'll be switching seats for this event, so I darn well better follow my own recce advice and keep things simple for my navvie Erik!

It will be interesting to see how my right-seat brain interacts with the side that has that strange round thing to twiddle....and jeez, all them pedals on the floor...whadya do wid those??

On a more serious note, you'll no doubt find that recce day is every bit as long and intense and tiring as race day. Maybe more so, since after parking the recce car at the end of the day, the hard work of collating and checking and cleaning up the notes begins. Expect a late nite for all that...

When you park the race car, you just go and party--though this admittedly depends on exactly WHERE you parked the race car,like at the bottom of a ravine on its roof or something!


Dave G
Goes Both Ways (so to speak)
LDR

"...Embrace loose gravel, beware big trees..."
 

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www.christianedstrom.com
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>Running recce with supplied notes: BCE's advice of not
>marking these up is right-on.

Just to be clear, this is _not_ what I said. The RNY supps say you can use recce to mark up your ROUTE BOOK. This is what I'm advising against.

I think using the Jemba prepared notes, and doing a one or two pass recce modifying those notes is the best recce practice that you can ask for. It will also yield better results than a simple 2 pass recce for 99+ percent of the teams. There is a team in the WRC that does exactly this.

If someone had asked me to run RNY, I would have insisted on this method.

Cheers,
- Christian
 

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Discussion Starter · #8 ·
Thank you for all your help. I think with this information as well as other gathered from different sources the team will be able to do good with the stage notes.
 
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