The national Iranian Motorcycle and Automobile Federation finally announced the results of our first Speed -Time-Distance road rally. Out of about 180 teams, we ranked 27th, with 135 negative points. It wasn’t an amateur rally, many national champions also participated. It was something like free for all.
I was not involved in the driving (I don’t know how to drive) or much in navigating (I look at the map too much, ignoring the road or the features): I was sitting at the back calculating the times and speeds and all using a solar calculator and large pieces of paper (between two and four people were allowed in each car). When I checked the numbers later, I hadn’t made a single error, all that with a solar calculator which didn’t work properly in the early morning. (I somehow reprogrammed it about 10 times, the program was reset every time we went under a bridge or something.)
But why did we only rank 27th? Well, one of the instructions on a map was “During this map, don’t add 15 minutes to your due time”, which meant that you should ignore the instruction completely (it was a trap). We had automatically read this as “add 15 minutes”, because, a) the high stress would only let you read everything as they would most possiblity mean, and b) the Persian terms for add and don’t add, were only different in one single duplicated letter in this case: “اضافه نمائید” vs “اضافه ننمائید”. This was early in the game, so we were about 15 minutes late for each of the seven or eight time controls after that, which explains about 100 of those negative points. We didn't find about the trap until we passed the finish line.
I don’t have the score sheet yet, but I really believe that without those 100 points, we would have been in top three. Too great for first-timers!