Rallying is one of the most popular forms of motor sport in Britain; despite varying levels of modification ‘under the skin’, the cars look like those we all drive and have a crew of two – a driver and co-driver, or navigator – who work as a team.

Cars normally run at one-minute intervals, competing against the clock rather than directly against each other as they would in a race.

At one extreme a high degree of modification is required for special stage rallying whereas at the other end of the scale, standard, unmodified, everyday cars are used for navigational rallies, making the latter one of the cheapest forms of motor sport available. A number of events run under the umbrella title of ‘Rally’, including economy runs and treasure hunts.

All competing cars must be taxed, MOT tested and insured.

Some of the variations are...

Essentially a Road Rally without your car! These test your navigational skills to the utmost by plotting the route on a map and are an excellent way to learn to navigate … and they are usually held in a pub!

An introduction to navigational events on the road, the challenge is to solve a variety of clues and devise your own route to visit check-points along the way; there is no set-route (hence the name!) and will last between two to four hours.

These test both navigational and driving skills as you plot a set route from written or diagrammatic instructions on the map and visit manned controls in the correct order and within a specified time limit.

These events are sometimes run in the evening, last from two to four hours, covering about 45 miles and are limited, as the name suggests, to a maximum of 12 cars.

The ‘big brother’ to a 12-car rally, 'Road Rallies' as they are usually known will have entries from 25 up to 70 cars, depending on the geographical area in which they take place.

They typically start after 11.30 p.m. on a Saturday night and finish during the early hours of Sunday; the route can be as much as 150 miles in total.

Held both on the public road and on private land, these events comprise both navigational sections with ‘Regularity’ timing, in which a specified average speed is required and the most time controls are secret, in conjunction with Special Tests of maneuverability and speed against the clock on private land. Cars must be at least 25 years old.

Far more expensive than any form of road rallying, this discipline emphasises car preparation, power, handling, speed and driver ability, rather than just navigational skills, although these are still necessary; the same safety equipment as required for speed events is mandatory.

The 'special stage' is a stretch of road closed to all other traffic, marshalled at intervals and cars are timed with special clocks. In most of Great Britain (the exceptions being Northern Ireland, the Isle of Man, the Isle of Mull, the Channel Islands and the roads used by the Jim Clark Memorial Rally in Scotland), public roads are not available, so special stage events use private land, typically Forestry Commission roads (‘Loose surface’ rallies) or disused airfields (‘Asphalt’ rallies).

The special stages are linked by sections of public road, where the required average speed is low (usually 28mph or lower). Because of this, all competing cars must be taxed and insured, with a current MOT certificate.

Most of the world’s most famous rallies are special stage events, for example the Wales Rally GB, Britain’s round of the FIA World Rally Championship.

Minimum Requirements For Stage Rallies

Additional safety equipment (e.g. roll cage, fire extinguishers and fireproofing) and an MSA Log Book; two crew members with valid MSA National B Stage Rally licences and club membership cards; crash helmets and flame-resistant overalls to specified standards.

The driver must be at least 17 years old, hold a valid RTA Driving Licence and have passed a BARS (British Association of Rally Schools) test; the co-driver must be at least 16 years old.

Junior drivers may start stage rallying earlier (at 15), but only on selected, single-venue, events and in cars with engines less than 1000cc.

All of the rules and requirements are detailed in the annual ‘Blue Book’, available from the MSA.