MEET THE NAVIGATOR
Have you ever asked yourself what that funny sound in the background of a rally video is? Those are basically instructions being given by the navigator.
As the name suggests, the role of a navigator is to ‘navigate’ the course during the rally. The funny sounds in the background are the navigator basically reading instructions from what is known as a ‘Pace Book’.
This book is divided into two main sections-The Transport Section which contains a slower speed limit; and the Competitor Section which allows the driver to literally speed up. The pace book also has detailed information on the road conditions such as corners, pavements, rough roads, crests and dips, the angle of corners, the optimum speeds at which each corner should be taken etc.
Navigator lingo is also quite interesting. For instance, in one version, the sharpness of a corner is described either hairpin, slow, medium, fast or maximum. In another version, the corners are referred to in terms of numbers 6-1 with 6 being a very fast corner and 1 being a very slow (sharp) corner.
Another interesting navigator gadget is the ‘Pen Holder’.
This is a tiny metal thing that has springs and a clip. It is used to firmly hold pens as the car bounces up and down.
This specific one was bought in Italy and is worth 20 dollars.
A ‘Time card’ is a book that the navigator records time on.
This is what determines the overall winner, and necessarily who got to the finish line first. If this book gets lost or misplaced, both drivers are disqualified for the rally. One is also disqualified if found cheating.
IN CASE YOU MISSED IT: MEET 4-TIME RALLY CHAMPION LEONARDO VARESE
Kigo Kareithi became interested in the rally as a child when watching big rally celebrities such as Carlos Sainz and . The rally used to big deal back then, he recalls, and the country would be at a stand still for about 4 days over the Easter holiday whenever the big name rally drivers were around. He recalls seeing helicopters following the race cars the whole rally through. Kigo always wanted to be part of this.
After Leo bought his first rally car and asked him to be his navigator, Kigo could not say no. One of his proudest moment was when he and Leo won the 2014-15 championship, especially since they were the underdogs. The media had not paid much attention to the duo. Their competitors were on a bigger budget, and had bigger and superior vehicles.
The navigator explains that being in the rally in Kenya is not about the money. One has to be driven by passion. Fortunately for international drivers, they are paid.
His routine before a rally usually included stretching and reciting a prayer. His greatest fear is being eaten alive by a Shark. This shows his dare devil nature, because he isn’t really scared of being wrapped around a tree for example.Since he is getting older, his hope is that he can give back to the sport.
Kigo is the the only navigator that uses an application to read his pave notes. The App is called ICODRIVER.
Asked whether or not Kigo gets scared when Leo drives at such a high pace, the navigator explains that he lays all is trust in God, and then the driver for his safety. Trust is key, he explains.
So what what happens if there’s a tyre burst? The duo has to change it as fast as possible. It is key that the team work together as a unit.
Some of the funny habits that Kigo has noticed in his partner Leo is that he always coughs before he starts racing.
In one word, Kigo would describe rallying as “FUN”.