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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
I had the experience of co-driving with stage notes for the first time with Pablo Sanfranciscon at STPR. I found it a worthwhile experience, and wanted to share a few observations and opinions for whatever they are worth.

My personal experience:
1) I found it to be a lot more fun as a co-driver. I got to watch the road and the action for a change, rather than look at the odo all the time, counting down to the next tulip instruction. IN fact (and yes this IS embarassing) I forgot to zero the odo at one ATC, and never missed it until the end of the stage; nary a stage note instruction was missed on-stage.
2) I found no problems with calling the stage notes without any reference to the odo, and using just the visual clues from the stage. This might have been easier due to lots of driving experience. Certainly good weather, and therefore good visibility all through the event, helped this a lot. It would be interesting to try to not use the odo on one of the occasional foggy STPR's or the fairly frequent dusty ones, to see if one misses one's place.
3) I got ahead once but never lost. On several occasions, the long strings of "into" this and "into" that and "into" another action got the best of me, and I was not giving a good timely flowing readout for Pablo in those sequences. This calls for a better and faster relation of what I see to reading the notes to make these sequences work better.
4) Calling the instructions purely visually did make it more of a challenge to call instructions 1.5 or 2 instructions in advance. It took me a while to get the instructions out far enough in advance to be good enough for Pablo.
5) The meeting ahead of STPR for stage note use was very good; both Pablo and I attended and were glad we did.
6) The glossary and terms were OK; I only had the problem of calling "tightens" as "narrows".
7) I spent about 2 hours reading the instructions over and over to myself, speaking aloud to myself. This helped a lot to get me more familiar with the instruction calling and glossary.
8) I made no marks inthe book except a few organizer supplied corrections. This worked OK.
9) As a driver, I noticed I was somtimes trying to drive the car for Pablo with my instructions. For instance, if the note was for a turn to "open" at its exit, I would instinctively not call the "opens" unitl just the instant before where I would have mashed the throttle had I been at the wwheel. I am sure this "help" was no help at all; I just couldn't resist it!! The ultimate in back-seat driving!

My opinions:
1) Stage notes are fun.
2) Stage notes only help one go faster in the fast parts of the course (6 and 5 level turns), where one can't quite seen if there is a tighening of a turn over or around what appears to be a mild turn; with stage notes, you know and can keep on the gas. I have not checked the route book to the stage notes, but having done STPR many times before, I am sure all of the 3 or tighter turns (and many of the 4's) would be in the route book anyway, so I see no advantage in stage notes over a tulip route book for the tight stuff.
3) In reference to the above note, if you have driven a rally several times before, I think the stage notes' value will be greatly diminished. I found myself looking ahead at the STPR notes sometimes and saying to myself, "Yea, that's right". I knew they were right because I had been on all the stages several times before. I already know where to put the hammer down and keep it down. The great value in stage notes is to new teams who come in and try to be competitive the first time on a rally. I am sure this is of great value to the foreign drivers coming over to compete for professional teams, and make up their possible handicap to teams like Libra who have been here forever.
4) As far as safety, I do think stage notes have potential downsides. One very good G2 team went off on a curve because the navvie got lost in the notes. The driver did not slow down to wait for the navvie to find his place, I think because the navvie didn't yell "I'm lost". Where they went off turned out OK; but, there are many places they could have gone off in this type of situation and done a lot more car damage.
5) I would not judge the STPR stage note safety by the average speed, which I read was high. The conditions were the best in many years. And the stages used had some of the faster sections in the whole area that have ever been used. I think these are the reasons for the higher average speeds. The lack of major "prangs" is also partly due to the fact that only 1 or 2 seed 6 teams competed, everyone was seed 5 an higher, with lots of rally experience in general.

I am still opposed to stage notes for the cost. These cost $150 for STPR. For an independent, this is can be real money. And I think they have the greatest potential for danger to new, inexperienced teams. I would not like to see these extended to Club rallies; use the tulip routbooks and learn to drive what you see first.

Regards,
Mark Bowers
 

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>5) The meeting ahead of STPR for stage note use was very
>good; both Pablo and I attended and were glad we did.

And I have a bone to pick with whomever organized that meeting. Unless I missed something (and if I did please tell me) I didn't know that meeting existed (at 10 AM) until I registered (at 11 AM). I did not see it publicized or listed anywhere and could have/would have gotten there in time for it. Also it seems more and more like they're trying to make it into a full 4 day weekend. For those of us that live 4 hours away and have alway left early Friday morning without taking another precious day of vacation and/or another useless night in a motel room (if you don't get in till 10 or 11 PM you could have slept at home) this stinks.

I should add, I agree with Mark on most of his points/observations.
 
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