Writing pacenotes is one of the most interesting topics to be covered. The symbols or ‘symbology’ used by the co driver to note down which are subsequently read back to the driver who needs to know where to go and how fast, could be considered as the crew’s own language and what we will try to explain. Then we will give some tips and aspects to consider when taking the dictation from the driver.
It is of outmost importance to be very focused when writing and reading the pacenotes so that no mistakes are made especially when there is a limitation of passes (usually up to 3 passes) when practicing (recce). If there is any doubt or a place that is not clear to both driver and co driver make a note of it so you can adjust it on the next pass.
Writing must be made in symbols that represent what the driver wants to hear during the race. Therefore the abbreviation must be done in a way that is understood and read out fast and clear.
The font size should be exaggerated so as not to require extra effort to read when in the race.
In the same manner the lines should be clear or far apart in order to reduce the risk of skipping a line or re-reading it.
The most practical way (considered the norm) is to write only on one side of the book making it more efficient, effective and faster to read.
Leave enough space between the symbols because it is quite common that more additions will be made with each pass until the final pacenotes are reached.
In the same manner, writing in pencil is the best choice considering that corrections will be made.
It is advisable to ‘clean’ the pacenotes in the original book rather than copying in another book since there is a risk of skipping lines, leaving notes behind or writing the same notes twice.
Space and information permitting, you should try to change a page where there is a pause available so as not to call a note late or interrupt the flow of a part of the stage that is dangerous. Trying to find a slow corner to change the page or a place where you will not need to speak as much. Discard half a page if it is necessary.
Make sure not to turn two pages at once (when writing and when reading respectively) this can be done by numbering the pages or turning them once or twice before the race so they don’t ‘stick’ together.
Mark the reading rate or tempo of the symbols. One way to do so is to underline parts that must be read fast or close together or double underline if there is a need to speak even faster (if corners are close together).
Aim to include as much references in your pacenotes as possible in case you miss a part or get confused. Such references can include road signs, trees, crossings, benches, big stones (something that will not move between the recce and the race, like a car for example). Although as aforementioned there is a limited pass allowed through the stages and the notes should describe the road perfectly there is always the chance of missing something, therefore to able to find a point in the notes that matches the road and start reading again any reference will help you.
By numbering the pages opposite or pages from total you will also have an indication of how far the finish is. An example would be to number 5,4,3,2,1 or 1/5, 2/5, 3/5, 4/5, 5/5…
At the beginning of each stage you can write a small description of the stage so as to be prepared for what lays ahead. You can also add important points such a specific turns, junctions, dangerous parts or even surface areas to watch out.
It is suggested to note in your pacenote book the direction of the race after the special stage in order to lessen the work required for you to do (or to have it ready instead of changing from pacenote book to road book) when in the meantime you will have to calculate the times, remove your helmet, check the time cards etc so as to be able to guide the driver when you reach a point in the road where you will need to give directions.
As far as corrections go while running the special stage you can just cross out the wrong notes and write the correct ones instead of erasing and rewriting at the time. There is plenty of time to correct the notes outside the stages.
Corrections while running the stage is not uncommon and it is very important so much for the co driver and more important for the driver. It is though very difficult to correct a note on one page while continue reading the notes as the car drives along which makes it very easy to either read something wrong or change a note wrong. You can make a circle around the corner that needs to be changed and a quick note and go back to it after the end of the stage.