Motorsport UK

Navigational Rallying Tips

Cath Woodman

Lives: Derbyshire

Occupation: Procurement Manager

Currently competing in: Various modern and historic road rallies, HRCR Clubmans Championship.

Career highlights: wins in road, endurance, historic, vintage and stage rallies over three decades

What exactly is road/navigational rallying?

Road rallies take place on Saturday nights, usually starting around midnight and finishing before dawn. Many competitive sections are on private tracks or unsurfaced roads, and the focus is on driving the route correctly and maintaining a tight time schedule.

What got you interested in road rallying in the first place and what was your first involvement?

I met, through a house-share, one of the (then) top road rally navigators who taught me how to read a map. It was the best gift anyone could have given me, and the love of cars (and speed) quickly followed. I started out as a road rally navigator on 12-cars and National B rallies but branched out into co-driving on stages and navigating in historic and vintage cars. I also drove on road rallies and grass autotests with minor successes, but soon realised my talents were more suited to the left-hand seat.

What do you enjoy in particular about road rallying?

As a navigator, particularly if there’s “plot and bash” (figuring out and plotting the route on the move), I’m able to influence our result far more in road rallying than a co-driver can on stage events. It’s exhilarating when I’m calling bends and other information off the map and my driver is driving to them; it’s real teamwork. And there’s usually a good breakfast to look forward to!

Why would you recommend taking up road rallying?

The great thing about road rallying is that it’s proper grass-roots motorsport; you can get started with an absolutely standard car and even buying or preparing a road rally car with roll cage, sumpguard, uprated suspension, seats/belts and spotlights can cost just a couple of thousand pounds. Alternatively, as a navigator, you can get started with just a map and a pencil. It’s a very accessible branch of rallying and extremely competitive at the top.

What tips would you pass on to someone who wants to start competing?

Join your local motor club and get talking to other competitors – we’re a friendly lot and will happily explain things or give advice. Then get yourself a driver/navigator (there will usually be car club people who will sit in with you) and try an evening 12-car rally – perfect for beginners.


Photos courtesy of M&H Photography.