Three types of rally typical in QC and ON
Type: Performance Rally Rallycross (RallyX) Navigational Rally
Photo :
Approx. total cost per event : $1000+ $100+ $50+
Equipment : Certified caged car, helmets, etc. Helmets Safety triangle
License : Competition License, First Aid Certification Rallycross course may be mandatory Normal Driver's License
Typical course : Closed roads Closed circuit with few obstacles Open public roads
Links : CARS
Coupe du Québec
Rallye Défi
Rallye BDC
Rallye Perce-Neige

    A Typical Navigational Rally

Navigational rallies are precision driving and navigating events. The goal is complete the route defined in the instructions at the pace defined in the instructions. Unlike RallyX and performance rallies, a navigational rally is NOT a race . The objective is to always be in the right place at the right time. Timed checkpoints (controls) are scattered along the route, at locations unbeknownst to the competitors. If the instructions are followed precisely, teams will arrive at all controls in the correct order and at the right time. However, due to navigation or driving errors, teams may miss controls or arrive early or late. This results in penalties. Thus, the team which best follows the route correctly and at the right pace wins. In NAVEX rallies, the navigation element is challenging and most penalties are taken due to navigational errors. In DRIVEX events, the driving is challenging due to the roads and/or weather conditions, and most penalties are taken due to issues of pace. In all navigational rallies, the laws of the road apply, and competitors must safely share the road with non-rally traffic.

A typical lineup of vehicles at a navigational rally. It doesn't take a 300hp 4wd car to be competitive! In fact it's often more fun and challenging (and much less expensive) to use a typical daily driver:

The following sections outline what to expect at a typical navigational rally. If you have questions, do not hesitate to ask the organisers, marshals and other competitors.

  Step 1: Equipment Preparation

Checklist Item
  Licensed, roadworthy car
  Car registration + insurance papers
  Valid driver's license
  Reflective self-supporting safety triangle
  Pens + Pencils + Ruler + Clipboard(s)
  Co-driver light / headlight (night rallies)
  Precise digital watch + Calculator
  Road maps (helpful if lost!)
  Gravol or other anti-nauseate
  Clothing suited to the weather
  Equipment for minor repairs
  Two shovels (winter events)

  Step 2: Registration and Start

  Step 3: Odometer Check (Section 1)

The first section has explicit instructions which guide you to a readily identifiable landmark at a known distance, as per the organiser's odometer. By measuring distance to this landmark with your own equipment (odometer), it is possible to compare the two readings and adjust distances in the instructions, if necessary. Example instructions:

Distance Tulip Instruction
0.00km TL - Turn left onto Audi Avenue
1.11km R - Turn right onto Lancia Lane
9.99km SA - Cross Subaru Street
15.00km ODO CHECK: Yellow Bumps Sign
16.66km TR - Turn right onto Mitsubishi Motorway - EOS
Take 18 minutes to End of Section (EOS)

Distances are cumulative. Tulip diagrams are accurate graphical representations of intersections where you enter by the ball and leave by the arrow. In the instructions you will see abbreviations such as TR (tee right), SA (straight ahead), etc. The abbreviations are always defined in the instructions.

When you arrive at the Yellow Bumps Sign, stop, note your odometer distance, and move ahead to let other teams do the same thing. If you have a significant discrepancy (>2%) you will likely need to correct the distances given in the instructions.

Complete the last instruction and start the next section 18 minutes after you left the start line in order to be "on time" and in a position to not take any penalties.

  Step 4: Competitive Rallying (Sections 2+)

After the odometer check, subsequent sections are competitive in that timed controls can be hidden almost anywhere along the route. The goal is to arrive at these controls at the correct time as you would had you followed the instructions exactly. The instructions include not only information about where to go, but also how fast to drive. Don't forget to zero your odometer at the start of every section! Example instructions:

Distance Tulip Instruction Timing
0.00km TR - Turn right onto Mitsubishi Motorway 72 km/h
4.44km Don't take Citroen Crescent
8.88km L - Turn left onto Skoda Sideroad 63 km/h
12.12km KR - Onto Peugeot Path Take 6 mins to EOS
19.19km Enter Hyundai Highway South - EOS

Of course, the most important thing is to stay on the correct route. But it is also important to be as "on time" as possible. You can calculate your ideal time at any distance with simple formulae. It's not too difficult to calculate the following ideal times (although in a car that's bouncing around, it's more difficult than you think!):

Distance Ideal time
0.00km +00m00s
4.44km +03m42s
8.88km +07m24s
12.12km +10m29s
19.19km +16m29s

However, since it is unlikely that checkpoints are right next to intersections, it would be nice to know your ideal time at any given moment. There are ways of doing this with instruments, but in practice, knowing your ideal time every km or so is generally quite sufficient.

  Step 5: Checkpoints

At least 10km after the odo check, you might stumble upon a control just about anywhere. A control is marked by a control board, usually (but not always) resting on the bumper of the control vehicle. When your car passes the control board, your time is taken by the control marshal. Note that you are NOT allowed to stop in sight of a control (this is quite dangerous anyway!) - you must keep moving. Correct control procedure is the following:

There will also be a timed control at the end of the rally. This is an elapsed time control . The last instructions will tell you how much time you have to arrive at the finish. You may arrive at the finish and hand in your route card earlier than your "ideal time", and you may ask for your "ideal time" and not take a penalty. However, if you arrive late, then your arrival time will be taken instead.

  Step 6: Recovering if Lost

Hopefully, you will stay on route and never get lost. But, sometimes it happens! Usually you can easily find your way back to the route and safely make up time. However, if you are lost for some time, you might need to "cut ahead" in order to still be within the maximum lateness you are allowed, which is specified in the instructions. If you arrive at controls beyond your max lateness, you will receive the same penalty as missing the control! Fortunately, the instructions include a recovery map which allows you to skip ahead a section or two and get back on route and on time. The recovery map indicates the locations of all the End of Sections:

  Step 7: Scoring

At the end of the rally, all competitors' scores will be compiled based on their arrival times at controls. The goal is to have as low a score as possible. Points are assigned as follows:

  Control Type
Timed to Minute Timed to Second
61 - 66 sec early 2.0 points 1.1 points
1 - 6 sec early 1.0 points 0.1 points
0 - 5 sec late 0.0 points 0.0 points
6 - 11 sec late 0.0 points 0.1 points
12 - 17 sec late 0.0 points 0.2 points
54 - 59 sec late 0.0 points 0.9 points
60 - 65 sec late 1.0 points 1.0 points
Missed Control 30 points
Max Late @ Control 30 points

Controls timed to the minute are the most common. You may arrive at these between 0 and 59 seconds late without penalty. Therefore, it is often best to always run several seconds late. If you arrive one second before your ideal time, you take a full point penalty!


Navigational rallies are one of the least expensive and most accessible forms of motorsport. The only equipment the average person is missing is a reflective triangle. Organisers strive to choose the most interesting roads possible, so that driving while respecting speed limits is fun. Rallies labeled as NAVEX have more challenging instructions and typically take place in the daytime. Rallies labeled as DRIVEX have simple instructions, but take place at night and/or in the winter when driving conditions are more challenging. There is typically at least one rally school per year, but for most rallies, you can simply just show up and partipate without any experience required. Since navigational rallies share much of the rules and procedures of RallyX and performance rallies, they are an excellent way to gain experience for the latter. We hope to see you at an upcoming event!

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