Monday, September 27, 2021

The day I become a Navigator

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Rally Navigation…..is not just another hobby….

By Abdul Sidi

The day I rose to become a Co-Driver………that particular day……OMG

By Abdul Sidi

Nearly three decades ago, I really got excited over the possibility of co-driving in a Rally with one of the quicker drivers of the time.

Peter Hays convinced me that Pace-Note reading was easy and self instructive

There was a Legend on the first page of the notes which would explain everything l thought

Great I thought – I can read reasonably well with my limited education of up to Form One – I love cars – how difficult can it really be – I mean the Driver can see the road and I will look at the Trip Master (Halda) – the road ahead and guide Peter along the correct route…

Oh boy!!! Was I in for a surprise?

The Legend never mentioned how extremely disgusting pace-note reading is in a speeding car – rocking – jumping rally car

The Legend never mentioned that the 100 – 200 -300 and even 500 meters was superficial distance which had NOTHING to do with the Halda

The Legend never mentioned about what to do in the event of a wrong slot (guiding the driver wrong way)

Nothing about Time In, Time Out, Service or all the other confusing Times that are the responsibility of the Co-Driver

And finally – nothing about the driver brainpower – driver insanity or adrenaline

Now picture this – Abdul Sidi reading pace-notes for Peter Hays in Toyota Corolla KE30 with mind of its own – Pete with mind of his own – Abdul Sidi totally mindless!!!

Yes – that’s really a chapter of my memorable career that, I even hard to forget today

Everything and anything that a co-driver can get wrong – I got WRONG

From call coming too early – to calls coming too late – to wrong calls to even asking Pete what a certain instruction meant at speeds of 160kph and then the unavoidable – WRONG SLOT!!

Yes – I was probably Pete’s worst nightmare on that very first event I ignorantly got pushed into

But – all the good stories go – we too had a happy ending – the Ramp at the Finish – the excitement of finishing well and finally the euphoria of having led and ……mis-led… my driver to the Finish

Abdul Sidi had become a Co-Driver

Nothing in the world can compare to that feeling – that achievement – that success or that level of Controlled LUNACY

Until the next day

Then realization sets in – OH MY GOD!!

A wrong call into a triple caution ditch could well have meant a certain disaster!

Worse yet – I could have booboo’d on the Time Card and – I could have got Pete into the wrong path of an on-coming lunatic….

I could have…. I could have…. I could have…

BUT I DIDN”T!!!

Sheer determination – reckless audacity and the Rallying bug made sure I bought Pete and my first ever rally entry to a happy ending

Today, after two nad half decades of Co-Driving at all levels – Local and International – I feel I have played Premiere League Football for the Liverpools and Manchesters of Rallying…..

Sharing cock-pit with some of the fastest drivers of the times (Azar Anwar, Sammy Aslam, Peter Hays, Marco Brighetti, Patrick Njiru, Phineas Kimathi, Sarbi Rai, Najmi Kassam, Raju Limbani……FIA African Champion Satwant Singh of Zambia, FIA World Group N Champion Gregoire de Mevius of Belgium.

Rubbed shoulders with the greatest in the world of rallying – Bjorn Waldegaard, Stiq Blomqvist, team-mate Richard Burns, Juha Kankkunen, Tommi Makinen

And the numerous countries I took part in rallying – South Africa, Tanzania, Uganda, and Rwanda and as far as Malaysia among others

And all the numerous Awards that I have gratefully collected, there is one thing I know for sure…..

Still there is so much to learn……..

Back then if I had a mentor who could teach me the art of navigation and all its particulars – I would be the BEST CO_DRIVER ever

To-day I want to pass it on to you – everything I didn’t know – learnt the hard and brutal way –

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