How does timing work in a Hill Rally?

Hill Rallies, like their car rally counterparts, are all about timing – and time-keeping is a vital part of any teams performance.

There are three main Sections that the event is divided up into:

  • Special Stages are the actual competition. They are timed to the nearest second, and quicker is better.
  • Road Sections are the bits of road/track/route that used to travel from one Special Stage to the next
  • Service is when you can fix the car.

The whole event is basically a sequence of these sections, where there’s a Controls at each change: Start of event -> drive to A -> race to B -> drive to C -> race to D -> drive to E -> {service} -> drive to F –> etc…

The time card

The time card will help explain this:

An annotated extract from a time card

  • Everything is timed from car 1, and the very first time (in the top of the right-hand column, #1 – 11:01) is the time car 1 starts their event… the time they leave Main Control Zero (MC0.)
  • The next thing on the time card is Road Section 1 (RS1): There is a distance to travel (#2 – 0.86 miles), and a time to cover that distance (#3 – 10 minutes). As this is a Road Section, this is timed to the whole minute.
  • Having got to the arrival of the next thing, we’re told its Arrivals – and that we should expect to wait 3 minutes (#4) before we actually start
  • Next we get to the actual competitive stage…. highlighting the numbers from SS2 here for clarity: w
  • e have the length of the stage (#5 – 12.48 miles); the estimated time for the stage to be driven (#6  – 19 minutes); the actual Bogie time (#7 – the time to do the stage at the fastest permitted [average] speed – 14 minutes, 59 seconds) ; and the actual target time (#8 – 45 minutes)
  • Not highlighted in the picture, but present, is a service – it just has a fixed time… 45 minutes

Special Stages

Special Stages are the easiest to understand – they are what we are used to from Comp Safaris: You start when told, and drive as quickly as practical to the end of the stage – times are to the whole second.

Cars that arrive before the bogie time get the bogie time (and cause headaches for the organisers), and cars that are later than the target time get the target time, but need to use some “Lateness” to pay off the deficit

Unlike Comps, there’s no “I’ll catch the car in front, give him a 5 minutes lead before letting me start” – unless there is a real problem, cars get fired in every minute, and overtaking is an expected manoeuvre… this is why seeding is important.

Road Sections

Road Sections are where you travel from one control to another, and you’re not racing… Road Sections are timed to the whole minute.

See the Starts section of the Time Controls FAQ for details how how the timing there works, however the quote from the MSA Blue Book reads

For example: a car has a recorded time of 11.04.40 for the previous Stage Finish. The next section has a target time of 00:09 (nine minutes). It is therefore due at the next Time Control at 11.13.
The car arrives at the yellow advance Control Board at 11.08, stopping before the yellow board. The car is Permitted to enter the control zone at any time after 11.12.00. The Time Card may be handed in at any time between 11.13.00 and 11.13.59, and a time of 11.13 will be recorded.

The route to take for the Road Section is given in the  Road Book, and it is the navigators role to guide the driver along the road book route, and to keep to time.

Cars which are late for at an arrivals board get the time they arrive, and a penalty for each minute they are late… however rather than being excluded from the event, that may use some “Lateness” to pay off the deficit.


Service is where the competing crew get to unkink, to relax, and for the service crew to fettle the car.

Service times are strictly limited, and cars need to report to the Service Out at the appropriate time

For example: a car has a recorded time of 12.01 into service, and a service time of 40 minutes. It is therefore due at the Service Oute Time Control at 12.41.
The navigator is on the ball, and gets the driver ready in plenty of time…. and car arrives at the yellow advance Control Board at 12.39, stopping before the yellow board. The car is Permitted to enter the control zone at any time after 12.40. The Time Card may be handed in at any time between 12.41.00 and 12.41.59, and a time of 12.41 will be recorded.


See the Lateness FAQ for details on how Lateness operates.

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