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Old 2nd October 2015, 09:57   #1
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Default Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

Introduction

Rallying - the word itself brings up images of incredibly fast driven machines over rugged terrains. In fact, the motto of rallying fraternity is "Real men, real machines on real roads". Unlike track races which happen over circuits that are tightly controlled and prone to be memorized, rallying takes place on open roads and tracks that do not easily lend to memorizing.

But within rallying there is a class that is not about speed alone. This is a class where speeds visually play no role. Welcome to world of reliability rallying, also known commonly as TSD (or Time Speed Distance) rallying.

Navigation is an integral part of a TSD rally. The route for the course is a secret and you have to use the road book to reach the end. During the course, a speed limit is imposed in different parts that needs to be adhered strictly. Along the way, secret checkpoints note the time and then compute whether you are driving fast or slow. Penalty points are applied accordingly. Penalties for going faster than the stipulated time are double than going slower. The route is covered by the crew to calculate the ideal time. The penalties are minimum for times matching the ideal time.

While in theory everything seems easy, it is quite difficult in practice. Navigators use all sorts of devices to keep track of their time calculations and guide the drivers over the route. It is also comparatively cheaper to participate in such rallies as there is not much to be done for your normal car to make it rally worthy.
Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying-img_2072.jpg

Last edited by Omkar : 6th September 2017 at 17:58.
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Old 2nd October 2015, 10:10   #2
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Navigation

Navigation is one component which is common amongst all forms of rallying. A series of symbols along with distance from the start and part distance from the last point instruction is denoted in the instructions. This form of route instructions is called the 'Tulip Road book' system and is followed in almost all rallying formats. Using this road book, the crews navigate from start point to finish.

The first column gives distance from start or cumulative distance. The second column shows the part distance from last instruction. The diagram in the third column describes the road directions to be followed and next column gives additional information. The ball at the bottom of arrow denotes where you are and arrow indicates the direction to go. There is no North, South, East or West - always the direction of your nose as you approach the instruction point. Some road books like the one in the picture below use last column to give the distance to go:
Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying-tulip_v4c_example.jpg
Image credit: Don Barrow Rally Navigation

Last edited by Omkar : 6th September 2017 at 18:01.
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Old 2nd October 2015, 11:55   #3
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The Crew

Primarily, the rally crew consists of a driver and co-driver inside the car. Their responsibilities are described by their designation itself. However, it is not mandatory that only one person should be the driver, especially in a TSD Rally. The driver's primary responsibility is to drive as per instructions from the co-driver/navigator. Apart from just driving, the driver must also give feedback to the navigator on the route. Reason being that the navigator barely gets any time to look up from road book, calculator etc. In rallies going cross country, the driver's major responsibility is to keep the car in one piece and despite the difficult situations, keep to the designated speeds.

Atmosphere inside the cabin can get tense very quickly with driver and navigator fighting and shouting at each other. The pressure is immense to not lose even a second!

Extreme rally also has its moments :



In addition to the crew inside the car, service and other support crews could also be a part of the team. Though typically these crews are only for speed rallying and not for TSD rallies.

Last edited by Omkar : 6th September 2017 at 18:04. Reason: Corrected youtube link as requested + typo.
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Old 2nd October 2015, 12:40   #4
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The Vehicle

For a TSD rally, the vehicle requirement is very simple. Almost all the normal road game vehicles can get the job done. Modification in terms of engine protection could be advised for off the tarmac rallies. Other modifications include extra cabin lights, deep hold seats, four-point seat belts, etc. More inputs are needed in calculators and odometer.

The fact is that no car odometer is accurate to the point. There is always a drift between the actual distance travelled and the distance shown on the odometer. So, one of the prime input needed in a TSD rally is a good odometer device that can give you the correct distance reading at all times. Special GPS and Terratrip devices are bought only for this purpose (not compulsory though).

There is a saying that a road book is always correct. Despite of whatever odometer you are using, you will have to correct your drift figures with the road book figures. An accurate clock is another essential item. Though with the advent of GPS this has become a whole lot easier.

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Old 2nd October 2015, 17:20   #5
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Speed

Information about the speed to be observed/maintained is given at the start of the rally or at the checkpoints in between. Typically, these speeds are given with single or even double decimal digit precision. As per the TSD rules in India, average speeds are kept below 45 km/h. These are relaxed to 90% of highway speed limits (if they are higher), but no time checks are established in such zones.

To get the competitors confused, speed limit can be changed within zones of half a kilometer or even less. This means that they will have to do a lot of calculations to get their precise ideal time. Sometimes, the speed goal may be given in terms of time to be taken. In this case, no calculation is needed to be done, but the time needs to be observed from in between points.

Last edited by Omkar : 6th September 2017 at 18:10.
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Old 2nd October 2015, 20:45   #6
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Default Re: Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

Thanks, this is a very interesting way of participating in a rally.

I have organised dozens of these rally’s over the years on behalf of the Dutch Alfa Romeo Spider Register. Mostly in the Netherlands, but also in Germany, Austria, Italy and Switzerland.

We also made variations on the tulip system. So sometimes we would only give distances between turning points or produce a road book showing sequential photographs of certain land marks you would have to drive to.

It's easy to organise although producing a 100% accurate route book does take quite a bit of effort. We usually had one team put the book together and a second team, verify it independently the weekend before the rally. Even then there might be some last minute changes as for instance a road gets shut down the day before the rally started.

Depending on the level of the participation we would allow/forbid the use of calculators, mobile phones, GPS etc. the most basic form would not allow any electronic device, so speed/distance calculations are all done using tables. You need a navigator who is very good in mental maths!

Good fun!

Jeroen

Last edited by Omkar : 4th September 2017 at 12:03.
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Old 2nd October 2015, 21:42   #7
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Jeroen, interesting variations are part of increasing confusion for participating crews.

The problem with banning devices is increasing ubiquity and processing power of mobiles. So, the way forward must be something which allows the use of everything but still makes it a challenge. This is work in progress.

More about TSD to come…

Last edited by Omkar : 4th September 2017 at 12:15.
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Old 3rd October 2015, 11:37   #8
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Question: So, we get distance from the road book along with navigation instructions. We get speed from speed chart. Where do we get the time from?

Answer: Nowhere.

As per our physics classes: Time = Distance / Speed

Hence in a TSD Rally we have to compute time for the given distance based on speed at which we are supposed to be travelling.

Simple? Hardly!

Firstly, time calculation is a difficult task as you cannot simply divide distance by speed. If you do this, you will get time in decimal format but not in hours, minutes and seconds format. Secondly, this is the time that will take you to cover the distance. You need to add this time to your starting time which means that you always have to take care of the basics (60 seconds = 1 minute and 60 minutes = 1 hour) while adding time.

This time addition will give you the target time to cover a specified distance. But you still have to drive at speeds to reach that particular point in the target time. Your car odometer is never accurate, so it is a question of checking actual time with ideal time or target time to know whether you should go faster or slower.

At each checkpoint, the time at which you arrive will vary from the ideal time. The difference may be just seconds, but this will cause further problems. Each checkpoint becomes the start of the next section and the time of actual check-in determines the time of check-out.

This whole load of work falls on the lap of the navigator and hence he/she rarely gets a chance to look up and admire the surroundings.

Last edited by Omkar : 6th September 2017 at 18:13.
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Old 3rd October 2015, 14:48   #9
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Default Re: Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

Thanks Sudev for a very informative thread.
Though I have experience in INRC Co-driving, I never got around to participate in TSD events. Hopefully I should get started in TSD soon.
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Old 4th October 2015, 07:25   #10
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Time controls

Time controls are points along route where each competitor's time is recorded. These are kept as surprise points and are not revealed even on the road book. Organizers try to keep these time controls at locations which can throw off the competitors. For example, a time control is likely to be placed just after a blind turn.

The intention behind this is that such a placement would not give the competitor any chance to adjust his/her speed and correct the time. If the team can see the time control from far away they can speed up or slow down to do the required correction.

Isn't it stupid? They could just stop till it is time to check in?
Well, there are rules governing time control and one of them is that you cannot stop in sight of time control. Similarly, you cannot reverse or enter control from a wrong direction. This makes for an interesting cat and mouse game between organizers and competitors .

Time controls are marked by clock signs with a specific colour background. It is the competitors' responsibility to stop at the time control and get their time card stamped from control officials. If they fail to stop at a time control or don't spot one, it is deemed that the team has missed the time control. There are heavy penalties for each missed control and usually you cannot miss more than 2.
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(Image source - Just Sportz)

How is it that you miss a time control?
It is easier than you think. Crowd and other traffic are amongst chief causes. And to make things interesting, organizers plan the route in such a way that the next time control is easily visible, and the one just before it is tough to spot. This easily confuses the competitors.

For example, a time control is visible just after a crossroad but the actual route goes right/left and loops back to the visible time control later. There may be one or more other time controls in that missed loop!

Last edited by Omkar : 5th September 2017 at 10:36.
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Old 4th October 2015, 09:03   #11
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Cool Re: Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

I had an opportunity to take part in one of the TSD rallies organised a couple of months back, in my area. At first I was told it was just a drive event with a bunch of car enthusiasts with their customized rides. Something like a group of 20 or 30 cars.

Less than a week to go and I was told it is a TSD rally. My customized ride sits on ultra low profile rubber with 19ers. I told Ďem they gotta be kidding, to put these customized rides on a rally event. Then I was told it doesn't have much of poor roads and whatever is there could be managed and it is a TSD rally, but have to be a bit careful and that's all. Well I was still not really convinced and was really in 2 minds whether to swap the wheels back to the stock ones. I did not care about losing or winning the rally but those wheels and rubber were brand new and took a lot of pain to get those to our shore. They were precious! I sure didn't wanna ruin 'em right away. However, I convicned myself to give it a try. And prepared myself to lose the event but not the wheels in any case. Took part in the event.

First 100 odd kms were good roads. Then came narrow stretches, then the surface started breaking up, portholes and poor patches appeared and we reached a point where the tarmac ended! I said to myself like this is it, this is how my Michelins are gonna blow up! If it was mud road I would have been more relaxed by the fact that itís better than a hard surface which is in poor condition. But this was a stretch with the first layer of soling with boulders, not even the smaller metal soling. That is the worst you could possibly drive on. If your drive slow you have to drive too slow, as in crawl, and if you drive fast you sure are gonna rupture the tyres as well as damage the wheels as the rim is too close to the surface with those thin side walls. You have to zig zag through the least torturing space you find and maintain an optimum pace which would kinda glide you over the surface. It cannot be too slow as you have to maintain the pace and it definitely canít be too fast, plus you have to keep a watch on the average speed. The thing about TSD rally is, they give you a silly average speed for a fine stretch and a challenging average speed for a poor stretch.

Finally we made it to the other end of this unpaved stretch and there was a border check post (not a rally check point), which obviously was closed! The watchman there was so prompt that it took bloody 8 long mins to just lift that pole so that we could pass. Imagine losing that kinda time after struggling to maintain pace on a very challenging stretch just before that trying to save not just mins but even seconds.

Finally we set off from there and came the worst of roads. Narrow, poor surfaced with deep portholes, grass on both sides grown above the height of eye, madly winding with full of hair pin bends. 40 odd blinding hair pins up, a few down and again a few more hair pins to climb after that, around 60 hair pins IIRC. To be frank, we lost count after 50~55. Bilstiens were a blessing on this stretch. Half way through the climb, road surface got better. However, we made it to the destination, with all 4 Michelins and Borbets intact (which was my major concern). 20 cars participated, or was it 18. Say, around 20 cars. We came out winners. My cousin was my navigator. The moment we were flagged off, I told the basic calculation for navigating. Not to brag, but being a nautical officer, thatís like elementary school stuff for me. And my cousin was great at guiding me through the confusing roads we had to navigate. We kept a good track of the time, avg. speed and distance. Only part where we slightly went off the plan was when we had to make up for the time we lost at the state border check post, we miscalculated a bit and did a bit more avg. speed than what was required and reached the last check point a liíl early. Reaching faster is double penalty. It would be better to reach late than early in a TSD rally. But still, we were way ahead of the runner up. In short, we nailed it.

The organisers were mighty impressed with the precision of timing we did. Said they havenít seen a team making it this well in their very first drive. And on 19ers?!! That was new to them too.

And thatz how we do it. (Not quite so, but thereís no fun in saying thatz how we did it! ) The guys who conducted the rally were ones who do INRC and stuff and I was told to participate in the Mahindra event that was coming up. But here I am typing this sailing on high seas where I do my real navigation. Will try some other event hopefully when I am back on vacation but not on low profiles next time. It does handicap you. But I thank heavens for letting me have it both. The best customized car in the event and winners same time. Could I ask for more. And for those who havenít taken part in a TSD rally. Try it. It IS fun!

Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying-tsd-rally.jpg
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Old 4th October 2015, 16:01   #12
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Default Re: Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

This is an entirely new concept for me. Once or twice, I have seen it mentioned, but lack of interest made me to neglect them. Is it happening quite often in India? Any way, thank you for this information.
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Old 5th October 2015, 08:46   #13
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Default Re: Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

Quote:
Originally Posted by drdeepudev View Post
This is an entirely new concept for me. Once or twice, I have seen it mentioned, but lack of interest made me to neglect them. Is it happening quite often in India? Any way, thank you for this information.
There was one which happened yesterday.

Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying-12004802_1036811803030550_2582376106486785414_n.jpg

The details can be found here. ROSA FUN DRIVE

I was away on a drive to BR Hills, else would have participated. I am sure some BHPians would definitely have attended, it will be nice if they can share the experience here.
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Old 5th October 2015, 10:15   #14
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The event had one major difference in approach as it forced the participants to make up lateness at subsequent check points. This can result in rash speeds. The normal TSD rallies do not allow you to make up for lost time. Your "innings" are over at check points and next segment is new innings.

Another was that this was combined with a treasure hunt - clues to be answered. Though this is good fun in itself.

Last edited by Omkar : 4th September 2017 at 16:26.
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Old 5th October 2015, 21:44   #15
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Default Re: Explained! TSD (Time-Speed-Distance) Rallying

Excellent thread Sudev. Rallies continue to be a mystery in Indian motorsport arena and this thread from TSD guru himself will help demystify as well as spread love for motor rallies beyond the desert and raid. All the best.
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