Cross Country Motorsports
To the outside world, Cross Country Motorsports is just another branch of mucking about with cars ... perhaps grubbier and madder than most, but a singular branch non-the-less.
In fact, Cross Country Motorsports is a wide and vibrant sub-culture,
that reflects many of the “normal” branches of motorsport.... but with
a twist, reflecting the nature of our environment.
Cross Country does Rallying... Multi-Venue rallies are called Hill
Rallies and single-venue rallies are called Competitive Safaris.
Cross Country does Trials... we even call them Trials.
Cross Country does Orienteering or Navigation events... they can be
simple orienteering events, Treasure hunts, Point-to-Point events, or
Winch Challenge events.
Cross Country also provides other, non-competitive, events for the
- Green Road Runs are a bit like a Sunday Drive, but without the tarmac,
and with friends.
Driving Days are organised drives across country.
(by Darren Taylor)
CCV? RTV? Tyro? What is this, the battle of the Acronyms?
Yes, and no. In, what is not an entirely unusual situation, the
acronym has in many ways superseded it's meaning, to the extent that
just about no-one can quite remember what they stand for.
RTV is supposedly a "Road Tax Vehicle Trial", although sometimes
referred to as a "Road Trim Vehicle Trial" the basic principle is the
same. An event slated for RTV purposes is designed and layed out in such a
way as to be non-damaging. Whilst the exact meaning of "non-damaging"
is open to interpretation the idea behind an RTV is that by and large
your vehicle will complete the event the same shape as it was when you
Tyros (from the Latin for novice or beginner) were an attempt to
temper the RTV. A Tyro has fancier rules regarding how roughly we are
allowed to treat a vehicle (and it's driver ;). The maximum angle of
hills; minimum width of gates; minimum radius for turns, etc.. It's
supposed to be safer, or at least less damaging. Because of this,
Tyros are a lot more relaxed with respect to who is allowed to do
what, for example an Tyro is the only situation which allows
passengers in the back seats, all though quite why anyone would want
to be thrown around in this manner is beyond me... (Well.. perhaps in
a Discovery of something... I used to do it in the back of the Series
III and enjoyed it immensely, although the thought of having the rear
body of a Land-Rover forcibly inserted into certain 'sensitive' parts
of my anatomy doesn't seem quite as appealing as it used to... One for
the kids perhaps ;) )
CCVT, technically stands for "Cross Country Vehicle Trial", although
choose between "trial", "CCV" or a whole host of others. Again, the
rules are open to interpretation, however the principle is that a CCV
can be damaging to both the vehicle (and it's occupants), simply by
crossing more aggressive terrain. To this extent the specifications of
the participating vehicles are also more involved, often requiring
more strenuous safety standards (roll cages and so on).
However, now we have dispensed with the technicalities we can get onto
the basic methods by which we play (sorry compete ;). As kind of
explained above all of these events follow a similar pattern some are
simply tougher (rougher?) than others, mainly as a result of the
terrain they traverse.
A trial (any trial...) consists of several sections. Exactly how many
sections depends upon the club, and most Scottish clubs do 10
A section consists of a sequence of gates numbered from 12 tending
towards zero. The idea is to navigate around the course without
stopping, hitting the gates, going "significantly outside the natural
line of the course", rolling (which is just a more extreme version of
stopping), killing pedestrians/other competitors (only joking!),
swearing, breaking anything that isn't yours, or generally doing any
of a whole host of other unpleasant things.
Points are awarded depending at which point you mess things up*. Drive
into the 12 gate ( <cough> Ian <cough> ) and you get "12",
somewhere between the 3 gate and the four gate, and you get a 3 and so
on. Should you navigate around the entire course ( <cough> Ian
) without hitting any of the gates, you get "0" or "clear". Evidently
the entire idea is to complete all the sections with the lowest score
Got that? Good, not too difficult really, in fact it's pretty simple.
Go and watch a couple of events to get the idea, then join in... we'll
even class you as a “Novice” for the first year too!
[*] The Highland Club has a wonderfully different way of scoring,
where you are allowed three attempts at an obstacle, and even
permitted to miss out gates all together... very confusing the first
time you meet it.
(by Ian Stuart)
A Competitive Safari is a speed event for modified off-road vehicles,
where competitors are timed against the clock around a course of
challenging terrain. Vehicles are timed from a standing start to a
flying finish. The route, between one and nine miles long, is
generally designed such that competitors should average no more than
25-30mph - using twists & turns, climbs & drops, and simply the
nature of the ground to challenge (and thus slow) the competitors.
There is no penalty, other than the time taken, for stopping.
Courses should not be designed to actively break vehicles, however
drivers to have a tendency to “tunnel vision” when competing, and fail
to slow down for trees, rocks, or ditches unless forcibly reminded.
The only time limits are when the course "opens" for competitors, when
it "closes", and a target of [normally] ten laps to complete in that
The winner at the end of the event is the one with the lowest
cumulative time to complete all laps.
The Scottish Cross Country Championship is a series of seven such
events, run at seven different sites, hopefully each with a unique
flavour and driving experience.
The winner of the championship is the driver who was the best across
the whole year.
(by Ian Stuart)
A Hill Rally is a "Multi Venue Stage Rally"... a “multi-stage” version of a
Competitive Safari. In essence, this means that the competitors drive
a number of different stages, in a defined order, with set times to
cover the non-competitive sections (the drive between the stages, and
A Hill Rally, like any other Special Stage Rally, is made up of three
types of "event" for the competitors:
At the end of the day, the competitor who manages to complete all the
Special Stages in the fastest time wins the event.
Special Stages are the actual competition: the bit where you drive as
fast as you can, the bit where the drivers skill is paramount
Road Sections are the bits of road/track/route that you are guided
along to travel from one Special Stage to the next
Service is when you can fix the car, and service time is limited... so
don't go damaging things too much!
Hill Rally stages are run to a higher “safety specification” than most
Competitive Safaris, meaning that the average speeds can be higher....
up to an average speed of 50mph.
There are currently two Hill Rallies run in the UK, both run by the
Scottish Hill Rally Club.
The “Borders” Hill Rally is a multi-stage, single-venue rally run in
November, and is mostly on forest tracks. It is designed to be an
opportunity for new competitors to experience the difference between
Competitive Safari events and Hill Rallies.
The “Perthshire” Hill Rally is the last true cross country event in
the UK: Vehicles need to be road legal, yet capable of performing
competitively off-road. Combining aspects of Rally Raid, Competitive
Safari, and classic Stage Rallying, the Perthshire is an event where
competitors need the precision to drive Forest Stages, the flair to
drive the open hillsides, and the patience to drive on the public
“You can't win a Hill Rally on your own, but you can lose it for your
There are a number of variations to the “find things” concept. Like
everything in Cross Country, there's more than one way to do it:
events can break down into “guided” or “unguided”; and into various
levels of “difficulty”.
Treasure Hunts & Orienteering
Treasure Hunts & Orienteering tend to be simple events, suited to
everyday cars. Orienteering tends to mean “looking for punches”
whereas Treasure Hunts imply that there are a series of clues to
solve, which lead you to find “treasures”.
Winch Challenge events are most definitely NOT for your everyday car
(well, not unless you are a die-hard Cross Country fan!). Winch
Challenge events are difficult, and hard work. They require the
vehicle to have a winch, to get into (or out of) some place where a
nasty person has put the “punch”. Winch Challenge events can range
from the relatively tame to the downright dirty, extreme, challenging,
Non Competitive events
Green Road Runs
All photos © Lock Horsburgh.