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Rally timing systems - introducing Richta Rally Timing

You may recall I wrote about the evolution of Time/Speed/Distance “regularity” rallying and how in the 1950’s, 60’s and 70’s it was the predominant form of Rally as a motorsport, specifically for on-road events and almost exclusively a car motorsport…..

Constraints on the way events at the time were conducted include the need for a navigator to read the direction instructions in the “roadbook” to the car driver and the need for a small army of people to staff the (mechanical clock) time controls through which the participants would drive (usually in the dead of night when all respectable people were tucked up in bed….).

These two details continue to be a challenge to the organisation and participation of “regularity” rallies which have resulted in a number of technological solutions.

They are either printed on paper and assembled in a long scroll-roll and loaded into a mechanically driven scroll holder, or saved onto a tablet computer and read as a PDF.

Roadbooks presented in this manner are suitable for reading while riding a motorcycle over rough ground. The speed you travel over the ground is up to you!

This addresses one of the difficulties presented to motorcycle roadbook rallyists - how to navigate a course.

The major problem presented to potential organisers of events is how to time participants through time controls with sufficient time controls to make the event interesting?

  • Every event needs a start, a middle and an end. A stage start line, time controls and sections within the stage and a stage finish line.

  • Given we are obliged to use public “roads”, we are obliged to operate according to the legal framework that governs the use of public roads (licence/registration/insurance, speed limits, no head-to-head racing, no speed trials or contests such as sprints or hill climbs where the winner is the person achieving the highest speed/lowest time).

  • Event organisers are obliged to have data-systems in their events to generate and record participants times - of course, how else do you judge performance and rank participant’s efforts….? Also, where event sanctions and permissions are needed, workable timing systems demonstrate to all the people with the power to say “NO” to an event that the event ought to be allowed.

  • Traditionally, data-generating timekeeping has required people to be be at every Time Control Point around the course. People that not only had the required skills and knowledge to carry out their duties but were also prepared to put themselves out in order for the event to take place. An enormous WIIFM? (what’s in it for me?) transaction between the event organisers/participants and the timekeeping staff. In many ways, events have been framed around the numbers of (often) volunteers could be expected to turn up to enable the event….

Technology, in the form of GPS driven tablet apps using time and location information now gives the ability to run a timed stage or event without the need for time control staff to be physically present on a course as event participants carry a GPS receiving tablet-computed that has been pre-loaded with the event critical information, that logs the passage of that tablet through preset virtual “Control Points” at a recorded time and downloads that recorded data at the event finish line to enable the generation of the event results.

The app system I have been looking at and will be introducing is Richta Rally ( The system is a suite of apps, the event organiser uses one app to position the Time Control Points around the course by GPS, a second app is run by each participant to record the time that they pass through each GPS Time Control Point and a third app uses the data collected to collate and calculate the results.

If you run a paper roll roadbook you use your cellphone to record your progress, if you use a non-cell tablet with GPS receivers you transfer data by wifi or you use your cellphone, if you have a cell-enabled tablet it all works through the one device.

You need a cellular smartphone…. If you haven’t got a smart cellphone, an alternative timing method cannot be provided by the event organiser.

That would require people to be out on the course and would be self-defeating, as would navigating a course by GPS mapping apps and expecting to participate in a timed navigation trial.

There are three presentations here, prepared by Mr. Rich Bireta, the creator of this system. The presentations explain far better than I could how this system works. Please work your way through the presentations.

Richta GPS Checkpoints Rallymaster - users guide

Richta GPS timing - Introduction

Richta GPS Checkpoints - Getting Started (event organisers)

While it will not be necessary for event participants to have a detailed knowledge of how the whole of this system works, a basic working knowledge of how the participant-facing details operate will be…. This will be no more complicated than knowing how to download a pdf of an event roadbook and load it into a roadbook reader app….

I will be grateful for any comments or thoughts about this.



Vancouver Island Motosports Events

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