James Worker & Tash Oakden - Rally Otago 2014

Meet the Co-Driver – Tash Oakden

Tash Oakden
Tash Oakden

Name : Tash Oakden
Motorsport Club: South Canterbury Car Club

When did you first start rallying?
I started co-driving in Rally Sprints from 2001 onwards and did my first rally co-driving calling notes in 2005 in Rally of the Far North.

I personally think sitting in the “silly seat” of a rally car is a little un-nerving.  Do you ever get nervous / sick / worried?
I don’t get sick or worry about things. From time to time I get a little nervous. I think nerves are great! It shows you care about it! Once I get through the first few kilometres of the first stage, the nerves tend to settle. I guess it is more of an excitement for what lies ahead.

I know the effort that you put in behind the scenes before a rally etc, but for the sake of our readers, would you like to explain what you do, and what you’re responsible for during a rally weekend?
It varies depending on the rally or driver I am with.  A co-drivers job is all about being organised and being good at time management. I ensure my driver and I get to documentation on time and with all of the correct gear and information. It is also my job to ensure we get to reconnaissance on time. We work together to add detail to the notes or modify them. It is my job to organise my notes and road book so I am prepared for the day of racing.

I work closely with the service crew to ensure they know where to meet us for services and re-fuels. Also that they have the correct information and maps of the area we are covering. I also deal with sponsors before an event, ensuring they know where to find us on race day and what our movements are while competing in the rally. On race day I ensure my driver is up and ready. I read the road book and make sure we get to the start of each stage or service on time. During the stages I read my driver pace notes and then give him a run down of stage times at the end of the stage. It is also important that I have a good understanding of the rules and regulations.

Do you prefer a certain type of car?  If so, what is it and why?
Definitely Subaru’s. They are the shiz. I am a fan of the 4 wheel drive cars, and the more power the better. Being in a 2 wheel drive car is also fun.

What rally / stage has been the most memorable for you and why?
2011 Clubmans Rally of Whangarei is my most memorable.  This is because my brother and I won the Clubmans Rally for the 3rd time and by 9 minutes 25 seconds. We won it in 2008, 2009 and 2011.  This was a special achievement for me and my bro and one we will not forget.

Do you prefer gravel or tar seal and why?
Any time in the co-drivers seat is awesome, it does not matter if it is in a tarmac or gravel event. I must say that I do prefer the gravel though. Gravel adds noise  and more noise adds to the atmosphere.

How would you advise someone thinking of starting out in the sport as a co-driver?
I would encourage them to make the most of every opportunity and make sure they surround themselves with people that are willing to help and share their information before and on race day. Never be scared to ask for help before the rally or on the day. Prior to doing a rally I would advise that they go to a rally and watch the co-drivers, and learn and pick up different things. Finally, make sure you understand the rally rules. Co-drivers never stop learning, and you are never too old to learn!

Have you had a go at the driving at any time?  How did that go?
I have driven my brothers rally cars a few times in Auto Cross events.  In 2007 I won the Junior Aggregate points for the Northland Car Club. I also got 1st in Junior Motorkhanas.  In 2008 I was 2nd in Motorkhanas.

What do you like to do to relax when not rallying?
Relax… what is that? I would say I like to relax by doing things such as riding my Crf250R motorbike, snowboarding in the winter, and wakeboarding in the summer. Or I head out for a shoot at a Gun Club or go hunting.

Do you have any other talents that would surprise people (are you a budding artist / musician etc)?
I guess I could say I am a pretty good shooter. I have represented at a high level in Clay Target Shooting, I now coach 12 students to shoot which is very full on but very rewarding.  One thing I do that most probably won’t believe is decorate birthday, engagement or wedding cakes. This is always a lot of fun as you can be creative.



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