A change in regulations towards the WPM system will change the lives of the co-drivers, who will see their role become more important on the 2011 Dakar. Lucas Cruz, who has already had the chance to test the new rules and with success, on the Silk Way Rally with Carlos Sainz explains what the stakes are of this reform.
In the road-book that is their daily bible, both driver and co-driver must try to follow in minute detail the indications in the notes in order to find all the (WPM) passage points along the stage, under threat of penalty. When nearing a WPM point, the competitors have up until now been guided by their navigation systems to pass within three kilometres of a point. Now, their GPS will only active at 800 metres from the target, which will force the co-drivers to spend far more time concentrating on each WPM. This added effort greatly changes the work of the co-drivers, as Carlos Sainz’s team mate Lucas Cruz explains. “This regulation adds more importance to navigation, for sure. And for the co-drivers, it is very stress! The hard part is that we can no longer anticipate as to what will be in the following road-book notes to find the next passage point. You must first make sure the WPM is validated and then carry on very quickly.”
The more demanding WPM regulations will be particularly challenging in the dunes, where there are fewer reference points. “When it is 100% off road it is possible to make mistakes that can send you in the wrong direction for several kilometres. On the other hand, when there are tracks and intersections, we know quite easily if we are heading in the right direction” concludes Cruz, who is sure he has mastered the system. For many of the others that follow behind the job will be a lot harder than before.