Just in time for the 2024 World Rally Championship season, our EA Sports WRC pace note guide is here to help you make sense of your co-driver’s calls.
Table of contents
Rally is significantly different than circuit-based racing. Keen observers will have noticed another person in the passenger seat, and they shout things at all times while driving. What gives? Well, you co-driver is helping you to anticipate what is coming up. Unlike on a circuit, rally drivers cannot complete practice lap after practice lap, so these Pace Notes are integral to their driving.
There is a tight bond between drivers and their co-drivers, as both need to trust each other blindly. If you are just getting into rally, the pace notes that your virtual co-driver calls out may seem confusing. Fear not, though: Just in time for the 2024 Rally Monte Carlo, here is our EA Sports WRC pace note guide.
EA Sports WRC Pace Note Guide
The most important part of pace notes is to inform the driver of the turns coming up, how fast they are and what dangers they may hold. For this, the turns are generally numbered from 1 to 6 from slowest to fastest. Hairpins and flat-out corners extend this range.
As a rule of thumb, the corner numbers roughly correspond to the gear you can take them in. Modern Rally1 cars only have five gears, though, so this often does not line up perfectly. Still, it serves as a good baseline.
Additionally, tight turns have a few more distinctions. Most notable are hairpins, wich generally mean turns of 180 degrees or close to it. They can be open (meaning not less abrupt), tight, or acute, which usually describes an extra tight turn at a point where two roads merge in Y-shape.
Generally, once one of these calls come up, it is best to proceed with caution, as they can be deceptively slow. Your co-driver might throw in an “unseen” before the hairpin call, too – that is when you really need to be on your toes. Otherwise, you may just blow by the turn and into a guardrail, or worse, off a cliff.
Somewhere in between sit square turns. These denote 90-degree corners, often at a junction or around houses (which will also be called). Meanwhile, if you hear “turn” ahead of the basic corner call, this means that you are supposed to turn off the current road. An example of this would be turning off a proper road and onto a backroad into the woods while the actual road continues ahead.
On the other end of the spectrum, there are calls for flat or slight turns, as seen above. “Flat” means you are good blasting through at full throttle. “Slight” indicates the same, but generally for shorter, sometimes hardly-noticeable turns.
Note that “keep right” or “keep left” may be added ahead of corners in order to position the car correctly for another upcoming turn right after the one ahead.
Positioning the car through a corner is also extremely important in order to gain time or prevent damage. Those green and red icons above will appear alongside corner call icons. The green icon means “cut”, so can cut the corner on the inside without hazard to gain time. The red icon means the opposite, as there could be rocks, bumps or other hazards on the inside of the turn to end your run.
When tackling a rally stage, calls will frequently sound something like this: “Left 3, 100, right five, into hairpin left.” You may wonder what big numbers like 20, 40, 50 or even 230 could mean. Well, they simply indicate the distance between a turn and the next call. So, our example would translate to a medium left, followed by 100 meters of going straight, then a rather fast right, which is closely followed by a hairpin to the left.
These distances are not always followed by turns, but often also bumps, dips, jumps and other calls. They simply serve as an approximation as to when the next part of the stage you need to be aware of comes up. Should you have the co-driver call icons enabled in your HUD, these distances get displayed alongside the icon of the turn or bump, dip, etc. coming up.
To warn drivers about big braking zones, calls like “slowing” “caution” or “double caution” can be made. Misjudging these can mean a big crash, as they are normally used in sections where the car picks up considerable speed.
Not all turns will fit the calls mentioned so far. Some change as they go on, some have certain ways to attack them. This is reflected in the co-driver calls. Let’s start with turns that change their radius.
If a turn starts out as a 5, but then becomes much slower halfway through, a call might sound like this: “left 5, tightens, into left 2”. This means that you should not attack the first part of the corner as you usually would a relatively fast left 5, but rather slow down ahead or during the first part of the turn. Tightening corners can suprise you in a very negative (read: car-destroying) way.
The opposite of this is the “opens” call. If you hear this, the turn will decrease in radius, meaning it will be faster towards the exit. “Tightens” is always followed by a smaller turn number than initially called out, and vice versa for “opens”.
The length of turns that differ from the usual “standard” length is given as “sharp”, “half-long”, “long” or “extra-long”, from shortest to longest.
Elevation & Surface Changes
Rally is all about mastering changing conditions, and that does not just mean the weather. Stages will be bumpy, full of jumps and changing surfaces. Add in a bunch of hazards, and you have a long list of things to be aware of in order to blast through a stage properly.
When the surface of a stage changes, for instance from tarmac to gravel, your co-driver will let you know via a call like “onto gravel”, in this case. Similar calls include “ice patches from here”, particularly at Rally Monte Carlo.
Elevation changes can make a significant difference in how to approach a section coming up. A bump can unsettle the car. Over crests, your vehicle becomes lighter and has less grip, and jumps leave you unable to do any corrections once you launch off of them. Approaching them properly depending on the pace notes telling you what comes after them is essential.
Meanwhile, if a turn features a dip, it may be a bit faster than the number call makes it seem. As your car goes through the compression, it can gain more grip as its weight pushes down more. Downhill and uphill simply denote that the upcoming section features a continuous decline or incline.
Width & Hazards
The width of the road can change frequently over the course of a stage. Hence, the “widens” and “narrows” calls serve to make you aware that you can relax a bit – or need to be more careful as there is less road available.
You will encounter several hazards during a rally, too. Bridges usually mean narrower road, and missing the entry could mean plunging into a river or similar. Meanwhile, cattle grids will almost shake your car apart and offer little in terms of grip. Water splashes mean you will run through a small river or other body of water, which will slow you down and restrict your vision temprorarily.
There is more to hit next to the stage, too. Piles of logs can end your rally quickly should you hit them, as can rocks, houses, parked vehicles, and more. Finally, hay bales are sometimes used to prevent cutting in certain turns.
Chicanes, Junctions & More
Speaking of hay bales: They can also create new turns, namely chicanes. These come in two variations, those being left-entry and right-entry chicanes. This call serves to let you know where to aim and position your car when approaching these.
Meanwhile, “past junction” is self-explanatory – you need to blow past the upcoming junction of roads.
Furthermore, your co-driver may inform you about straight, technical and twisty sections ahead. Technical, in this case, does not necessarily mean slow, but with frequent turns that require more precision than usual. Twisty, on the other hand, usually means that a slow section with lots of turns awaits.
EA Sports WRC Pace Note Guide: Regularity Rally
Unlike usually, the aim of Regularity Rally is to finish a stage as close to a given average speed or time as possible. So going fast is not the essential element here, but rather being consistent and nailing the required time.
Regularity rally usues the usual pace notes, but adds in a few others. This way, your co-driver will let you know whether you should speed up, slow down or keep the current pace.
It is worth noting that the corner calls in Regularity Rally do not have numbers, but rather “grades”. So instead of a “left 3”, you should hear a “medium left” instead.
EA Sports WRC Pace Note Guide: Timing Is Important
Now that you know what your co-driver’s calls mean, it is important to also turn your attention to one more element. We are talking about the timing of those pace notes, which can be customized using different settings. Try some of them to find your sweet spot.
Calls being made too early can mean that you lose track of what is coming up. Too late, and you may have overshot a turn already. If the stream of info is too much to process in the beginning, you can also enable simplified pace notes until you get the hang of things.
Did you find our EA Sports WRC pace note guide helpful? Let us know on Twitter @OverTake_gg or in the comments below!
Image credit for all icons: EA Sports