Rally co-drivers are often in the shadow of a great driver, but they are essential part of driver’s success and even though you sometimes can’t even see them in the car, due to low seat position (for better centre of the gravity), they know exactly where they are at any moment.
So, what are main skills you need to be a co-driver?
- Don’t get car sick. And we placed this as #1 for a reason. If you are feeling sick when being driven with a regular car or bus, being a co-driver is not for you. Driver needs a responsible person to guide him/her.
- Precision. Ability to read pacenotes clearly and precise, not get lost and distracted, while also being able to edit them during stage, if something doesn’t add up.
- Pay attention to details (organized). This is a part of 2. and 4., a co-driver needs to be organized, keep their pacenotes, know the rules, prepare before the rally…
- Punctuality. Co-driver is in charge of time. He/she tells the driver when they need to leave the service zone, calculates the time for road sections, time controls and other timing, so the crew does not get penalized for early or late entries. Co-driver is responsible for where the car and driver are for the entire rally, from the start to the finish ramp.
- Have basic mechanic knowledge. When things go wrong, they need to be fixed as soon as possible, if you are able to. Punctures, differentials problems, broken suspensions, arms etc. If you are able to finish the stage, you usually try to fix your car on the road sections, where you don’t have service team, just the crew in the car, so knowing how to make small repairs in a limited time is crucial.
- Physical preparation. Rallies can be physically demanding, even though you are not steering and stamping on pedals like driver does, it can be really exhausting. First of all, you have to talk all the time. That means talking fast without a break, combine that with big forces hitting you when cornering and up to 50°C heat on summer rallies and you realise how hard it actually is.
- Mental preparation. You need to be fully focused on the signs you are reading, while always knowing where you are, even if your sight is limited. You should not get distracted by any event that occurs like understeering, fans waving, photographer’s flashes (these can be annoying in the night), apart when you actually crash and roll, then you should focus on protecting yourself, because you’re probably gonna retire anyway.
- Trust. We’ve put this the last one and separate from others, not because it would be least important, but because it’s THE most. If a driver and co-driver does not establish trust between themselves, you’re gonna have a bad time as your cooperation won’t work. Drivers risks his life by doing exactly what co-driver says, and so does a co-driver by sitting in a car with the driver. Trust each other. So when things are starting to go wrong and you’re on the brink of crashing, you won’t be scared and get confused or lost in the pacenotes. And driver will drive much better knowing he/she can rely on you completely.
- Did we miss something? Let us know below.