While the job of the rally driver is quite easy to appreciate, it’s a bit harder to grasp what the other guy in the car really does and why he is so important. We talked to Jan Kopecký and Pavel Dresler, the leading crew of the WRC 2 series, and asked them what you need to be a good rally co-driver.
1. Resistance against motion sickness
You may be the most talented co-driver in the world, but if you can’t read a book in a car without getting sick, you will be of no use at the stages. Especially in fast sections, you will have no time to look ahead and if you throw up on your pacenotes you will not help your driver at all.
2. Sense of rhythm
This may sound odd at first – after all, the co-driver is not expected to dance. However, with no time to look at the road, you will have to rely on your sense of rhythm to read your pacenotes at the right speed. Read too slow and the driver will get his information too late, with not enough time to react. Read too fast, and he may get the corners confused. Both cases may result with the car ending up in a ditch…
3. Being in good shape physically
It’s just sitting in a car, reading, so you can be weak and fat, don’t you? Well, actually, you can’t. Especially in fast tarmac stages, the acceleration, braking and cornering of a rally car can be pretty brutal and withstanding the forces that affect your body while staying focused on your pacenotes is really demanding.
4. Organizational skills
This one may be even more surprising, but in some respect, the navigator serves also as a clerk sometimes – he has to deal with all the organisational requirements of the rally so that the driver can concentrate solely on the driving. It will be up to you to make sure you have all the necessary documents and you are where you have to be at the right time.
5. Driving skills
Isn’t that what the other guy is there for? Once again, there is more to co-driver’s job than it may seem. It may happen that for some reason the co-driver has to take over the steering wheel and drive the car himself – in some cases, it may even be a regular practice, like when Kalle Rovanperä was already rallying, but not yet old enough to have a driver himself. His co-driver had to drive all the transport stages.
6. Being a writer
You don’t need to be a master of your language, nor would anyone expect you to write a novel. Still, you may have to write 4,500 pages of pacenotes in a single season, and you have to nail down the information perfectly – know what is important and what isn’t.
As a crew, you depend on each other not only with the rally results, but also with your life. You have to trust and understand each other perfectly, which is rarely possible if you don’t go along well. While some crews are purely professional and go their separate ways when the day’s work is done, Jan and Pavel are also friends in personal lives.
Want to know more about the job of rally co-driver, as well as about Jan and Pavel themselves? Read the article at ŠKODA Storyboard, which includes an interview with both of them.