Marco CalovoloIn my wanderings in the racing world, I met very special people but whose job is often under estimated, specially in Italy: the co-drivers of rally, off-road or from other specialities. Professionals or not, extraordinary partners during travels and journeys, ever precious beyond their formal role. A thousand years ago I shared with some of their many magic nights, consuming roads and petrol during the reconnaissances before, tyres and brakes during the rallies after. Yes, once we raced through the night, due to permits issues for closing of the special stages. We started late in the evening writing notes, then to correct them step by step until the first light of dawn. We dig the stages. In the first step, the driver dictated the notes, then he listened the correct ones adjusted, filed, finished, the same that would have a key role in the race. The arrangement, with the advances, the pauses, the repeats, and the comments at the end of any stage. And then the long silences during the drive between the stages, interrupted only by a comment of the ranking, the cawing of the radio (no mobile phones!) and how much time was left for the service. The service areas were free, before and after the special stage , and so much better organized than now, studied to lost less time as possible and to work in the best way. I remember the official teams service areas in the golden years of rallying, amazing structures projected by the best co-drivers names of ’70s. Masterpieces, studied taking care of of graphics, logistics, organization… So close to a military camp. Everything was hand-drawn (!) with a impressive realism. The notes had some special quotes like “get there early!” or “if point A is not available, go to point B” or even “park near the open space for the helicopter“. Because this is even and especially the co-driver role, he must have the vision of the whole situation, to be the clever head of the crew. Then, if the driver gives his support, everything will be much better, but you cannot take for granted… If the co-driver is well experienced, he is able to relieve the driver from all the bureaucracy during the race, checks, schedules, bulletins. The driver needs only to think of driving well, possibly within the physical limits of his car. Among professionals characters, their relationship is also enriched by a technical value, indispensable for the car development. During the test the co-driver is the navigator that collects the first hot impressions of the driver. Often he is the interface with the team’s engineers and I can consider this role – sometimes – quite close as is a race engineer on track. It is not uncommon to find, between driver and co-driver, a very long-term partnerships over the years. One final observation: many former co-drivers have achieved prestigious positions both in private companies and in institutional organizations, beating more than once the direct contest with their former fellow drivers. It depends, I think, on the co-driver mindset, who manages to maintain a clear and detached view of the event bearing prolonged physical and psychological stress. It is not a coincidence that many female co-drivers have demonstrated exceptional qualities and absolutely deserved success, comparable to those of their male colleagues. As a former rally driver: thanks to all of you for your precious work!

Marco Calovolo