The Service Park is a space provided by the organization for competitors to perform repairs and maintain their cars during the running of the rally by teams’ authorized personnel. The entry and exit to and from the service park are through time controls so as the cars run in sequence and the time allowed to work on the car is the same for all competitors. This time as aforementioned is marked on the time cards carried at all times by the co driver and signed by a marshal at the time controls.
The way that service parks work is that each car approaches the time control (T.C) before their ‘minute’. Once their minute comes on the clock they are allowed to punch in. the cars drive in a ‘one way street’ manner throughout the entire service area until they reach their allocated spot which they are allowed to work on their cars. They must perform all work within the time they have and then the same procedure applies when exiting the service park at the T.C.
Note that there is no refueling allowed in the service park. Refueling is allowed just outside the service area at a monitored spot under the presence of firemen and/or specially trained people from the organization.
Although we have discussed time penalties and as aforementioned, here too, penalties count in the service area. If a car is allowed 20 minutes in the service area, but the work carried out takes more than that, time penalties are added to the total time of the crew at the end of the race (as rules specify: 1 minute on the total time for every minute of early arrival and 10 seconds for every minute of late arrival).
Within the service area the crew and team must abide by the regulations (some of which were mentioned above). Another thing the crew must abide by is the speed limit which is usually a maximum of 30km/h within the service area.
Having said all these, the allocated area of each team is pre-assigned so crews and teams know where and how to reach this spot. Also, the time allocated for service starts counting from the time the co driver punches the card until it is punched out so one should expect that a minute will be used to travel from the T.C to the teams’ spot and another or so to travel from the teams’ area to the check out T.C.
Any work to be performed on the car has to be performed in the allocated area. Depending on the event and category of each crew there are a number of mechanics allowed to perform certain tasks on the car and the drivers and co driver are allowed to help.
One of the co drivers’ role during the service time, since he/she is the one who knows what time they entered and what time they are planned to leave the service area, is to notify and remind the team mechanics of how much time is left for them to work (keeping always a minute or two depending on the size of the service area to reach the T.C).
The area at the service park can also be used by the co driver in cooperation with the team to check up on times, calculate fuel, go over the tactics or sit and have a coffee or something to eat.
Care must be taken during this procedure not to get in the way of the mechanics since they might be performing a difficult or even dangerous task (heavy parts being fitted to the cars or in case of a damaged car small glass to be cleaned out); therefore our trusty bags usually come out of the car with us to go over various tasks as discussed above.
With this in mind the co driver should always remember to take with him everything that he took out from the car so as not to reach the stage and realize that he left the pacenotes in the service area for instance.
As mentioned above, the procedure to exit the service area is the same as entering it. If a crew arrives before their due time at the T.C and are waiting for their ‘minute’ they should take care to leave space for other cars to pass by since someone might be in a hurry to reach the exit due to various problems or pressure of time.