Rally Notes – The Real Deal!

All German Motosports has long been noted as leading the way when using rally notes in off-road racing. For years Bryan Lyttle has been navigator for Armin Schwarz throughout both their Class 1 and Trophy Truck campaigns. Recently Bryan was invited out to participate in the Legends Rally in San Marino Italy with Armin to campaign in a real deal full tilt rally car previously campaigned by Carlos Sainz just a few years ago . We caught up with Bryan in the midst of his Baja prep and prerun schedule to hear what his impression of racing a rally car verses the desert racing we all know and love.

RDC: So coming from off-road, was this your first venture into an actual Rally?

Lyttle: Yes it was, it was my first official WRC style rally. We didn’t run in a new car but we did run in a Citron that was campaigned by Carlos Sainz in the mid 2000’s, so it was the real deal. I definitely got a feel for what those guys are doing and my first thought was holy $#!™ thats fast! But maybe I shouldn’t say fast but super quick from turn to turn everything is happening so fast. There not much of it thats the same as off-road. In off-road you make your notes and a lot of time they’re not nearly as detailed, they’re not explaining the corners as much, or what you need to do in the corner whether you’re cutting or not cutting.

RDC: So its a lot more involved than what you’re calling in off-road?

Lyttle: The biggest part is in rally, you never stop talking, its like a giant run on sentence. Whereas in off-road you get a little break in between notes. In rally you not only don’t get a break but you don’t dare mess up because you’re gonna wind up in the side of a house or tree or in a building or off a cliff! There is just no margin for error for how hard these guys are pushing. It’s crazy but it’s also awesome because of that.

RDC: So how did the terrain differ compared from what you’re used to in off-road?

Lyttle: Well this specific rally was an all tarmac rally so the turns were actually easier to see because they’re defined by the road and in that regard it made the notes a little bit easier because you could tell where you had all these small turns where off-road it would be a little more difficult, that and the fact that you don’t have any dust! That made it a little easier! I gotta tell ya I kinda liked that, that whole racing in the dust thing is for the birds after you get to race all day. At the end of the day you’re clean? A guy could get used to that.

RDC: What was the biggest difference you notice between rally and off-road?

Lyttle: The biggest difference I noticed was in off-road you don’t rally experience g-forces. I know its mostly because we where on tarmac, but in off-road it doesn’t really come into play unless you’re getting a negative G, going over a jump or the occasional G-out. In this stuff every corner you’re getting thrown into the seat and back into the belts under braking and back into the seat under acceleration so its a whole new dimension.

RDC: So how different is the acceleration and braking?

Lyttle: Awesome! It’s awesome. The best way I can describe it is if you’ve ever driven a 125cc shifter kart. Everything on the car is solid mounted so you get these harmonic vibration through your body. It borderline violent. And just things like keeping your head against the seat so you don’t keep slamming it back every time he gets on the gas. Tightening your belt more than you think you need, stuff like that. It’s not like pounding whoops violent but just different. Another thing I found out is the car jump way better than it lands. The car is awesome at taking off and will fly forever but holy crap. They don’t land like an off-road truck. They run out of suspension immediately.

RDC: How are the rally fans?

Lyttle: You know they are a lot like the fans in Mexico or like what you see in Dakar. They are so pumped when you’re coming by. This rally was a little different than other as it wasn’t an FIA sanctioned event so they were a little less strict on the spectators were allowed to get a lot closer to the track. So they were right on the inside of turns. There were some turns where Armin almost has to pretty much put the car backwards before the apex of the turn and these guys can just about pound on your hood, they’re that close. Their arms are out and they got their flags and they’re rooting you on and its contagious. The atmosphere is electric.

RDC: Like a crowd a Zoo Rd?

Lyttle: Mexico still hold the title for the super fans. These guys weren’t IN the road but they were every bit as excited and you cant help feeding off that.

RDC: What else left you with an impression?

Lyttle: Really is just awesome. If they wanted to pay me to do it for a living I’d do it all day. Nothing against off-road, off-road is awesome but with this you start feeling like a prima-donna because theres no dust to deal with, you finish the day your clean. It’s full hollywood program. I mean I get in the car, I do my notes; in between stages we service the car. So we pull in and I tell the team director what we think is wrong with the car and they hand you a coffee or a water or a sandwich and you go sit in the shade while they thrash away at the car. And they are just brutally efficient. It’s amazing how good they are and what they’re able to accomplish in a very very little amount of time.

RDC: How does the rally car feel in comparison to an off-road car?

Lyttle: It’s 180˚ from what an off-road car feels like. It’s everything an off-road car isn’t and vice versa. Everything is very fine in the way you handle the car, the way you drive the car, the way the car feels. It feels much thinner, obviously much lower, but it doesn’t quite have that sense of security that off-road cars have, just everything about it is just different. It’s kinda this light almost tinny feel and it has this crazy harmonics about it. Even with your helmet on you could hear the car popping and noise from the waste gate. And with the launch control just before you take off the thing is bouncing off the rev limiter. It sounds like theres someone under the car banging on random stuff just before you take off. It’s just crazy.

RDC: So what part of this experience will you take and apply to off-road?
Lyttle: A little bit of everything. There is so much to learn and they’ve been doing it for a long time at a very high level that they have their program down to a tee.