One of the common questions I get when telling people about the Alcan Winter Rally and Time Speed Distance (TSD) rallying is how the rally and scoring works. I'll try to give a brief overview.
First, and foremost the Alcan Winter Rally and other TSD touring rallies that we do are held on open public roads at or below the legal speed limit. It is not a race to get to certain points the fastest or be first. It is a competition of precision, planning and preparation.
At the start of the rally we receive a big book called a Routebook which lays out, in words, the entire route that we are to follow. After the rally begins everything is predetermined by the Routebook and we are to follow it to the letter. The Routebook is simply a series of numbered instructions that we do in numerical order. It tells us precisely what time to leave and the mileages, speeds and route following directions for every turn.
Within the Routebook all of the instructions are broken up into things called Sections. There are two types of Sections: TSD and Transit. A TSD section is a scored section in which we must start at the right time and drive precisely the right speed at all times. Along the route in a TSD secion there will be hidden checkpoints recording the time that we pass. A TSD is typically short, less than 30 miles. A Transit is a non-scored section, which must be started and finished at a specific time but during the transit we are free to drive at our own pace, stop for gas or food or sightseeing. On the Alcan Rally transits are generally long, usually at least a few hundred miles. One important note is that time allowed for transits is limited, so while we can go at our own pace we must be very aware of how much time we have to cover the distance so we are not late starting the next section.
As I mentioned above, during a TSD section we must start at the right time (to the second) and drive exactly the right speed at all times. A TSD is planned by the Rallymaster (the person who setup the route) and measured with an odometer which is accurate to 0.001 miles. The Rallymaster also chooses the speeds and decides where to hide the checkpoints. Using a bit of simple math the Rallymaster knows precisely what time each car will be passing each checkpoint. On the rally when we drive past the checkpoint they record our time and compare it with the official calculated time. If we are early they penalize us one point for each second we are early. If we are late they penalize us one point for each second that we are late. Arriving perfectly on time scores us a zero. The maximum penalty on a TSD is 200 points.
The Alcan Winter Rally is unique in that it has special ice racing or ice slalom events in addition to the transits and TSD sections. On these closed courses, which are usually on a frozen lake, we go as fast as we possibly can without getting stuck off the course. On these events the fastest time scores zero points and slower cars score one point per 0.1 second that they are slower than the fastest car. That's pretty rough but luckily the maximum penalty at an ice race is only 10 points.
With all of this precision and time management required you can see how important the role of the navigator is. While the driver works to keep the car on the road, the navigator works to keep the car 'on zero' by doing calculations or running the rally computer. This provides feedback to the driver about how close he is to being on time.
Finally, after being timed at hidden checkpoints on a few dozen TSD sections and four ice races over the nine days of the rally, the scores are totaled. The highly competitive cars will generally have very low scores (under 100) and be separated by a few seconds. The winner of the rally is the one with the score closest to zero. We hope that will be us.Posted by erich at February 9, 2004 03:45 PM