15 Apr 09
Completing the card
At the beginning of a rally each co-driver will note his driver's provisional start time at the opening Time Control (known as TC0) in pencil on the card. Co-drivers always write in pencil, just in case they need to correct a mistake. Once at TC0, a Time Control marshal will write the actual start time on the card (in ink) and send the crew on their way.
From this actual start time, the co-driver can calculate the target time for arrival at the next Time Control, and will present his card to the marshal there, who will write in the actual arrival time. From this time the co-driver can calculate the target time for the next point. And so on. This process continues from the start to the finish of the rally, with co-drivers carrying a written record of the 25 or so Time Controls they visit each day.
Once a rally is underway the time card becomes extremely precious and co-drivers keep it with them at all times, most in a special pocket on the leg of their overalls which allows easy access when seated.
"In rallying the time card is more important than the car," says Daniel Elena. "Because if you have no time card its impossible to complete the rally. And if you lose it the race is finished. It's more important than the driver and co-driver!"
Usually the process of getting the time card filled in by a Time Control marshal is done through the window of the co-driver's door. But sometimes the co-driver will get out of the car to complete the paperwork, and send his driver and car on ahead.
This happens especially at the Time Control before the Service Park, where the 20 seconds or so it takes to complete the card would be better spent on mechanical work. On the first second of the arrival minute, the co-driver will present his card to the Time Control marshal and immediately wave his driver through. For this reason it's usual to see co-drivers walking into service.
To do their job well, co-drivers must be meticulous and detail-minded, and ensuring their time card is complete, accurate and somewhere safe is a top priority. It's also a source of constant concern, as Elena explains: "We have a lot of Time Controls to pass through, so to make a mistake is easy. For me the race is over only when we're at the finish podium holding the cup!"