Do you remember how relatively easy it was to learn and memorize every single special stage in the original version of Richard Burns Rally or in any other, older rally game, mainly because stages were usually quite short (let’s mentione that wonderful Rally Championship 2000 game with its 1:1 depiction of stages in the British Rally Championship – those were NOT short!)? Some took longer to crack while others were absorbed instantly, but in the end they would all succumb to your persistent attempts – you’d learn them by heart and you did not even need that co-driver talker anymore. Of course, at that point, you were focusing on setting up the car or trying different techniques and tricks – it stopped being a rally simulation and turned into some kind of circuit racing / hillclimb hybrid.
In real life, especially in national series, you are also able to memorize stages, especially if they’re not changed year after year, and the more you drive the better you become at storing stage sections in your memory. In the WRC, crews are only allowed two recce passes over each stage, but in national or club events those rules are often less strict. I don’t think you’d ever be able to learn all stages in a championship, top competitors still rely on their co-drivers for all the fine details and up to date information on road conditions, but in virtual world, after some time, you can learn all there is to know about every single meter of every single stage. At that point, the should simply throw a “game over, go play something else” at you. But even if you do know all the stages, there is still a lot of fun in mastering them and perfecting your lines, braking points, hairpin entries, weight shifting, etc. Granted, the fact that you no longer need a co-driver takes a good chunk of edge from the immersion, but it’s not a game breaker. At least for me. Or rather, I think this is how I’d feel if I ever got to that point of memorizing every bump, corner and surface change in every single stage. Fortunately, this never happened to me.
I am great at forgetting many small details in… well, everything. Whether it’s a movie or an album or a book, I’ll remember the big plots, I’ll memorize quotes and some, usually extremely irrelevant, details, but I’ll forget just enough that I’m able to rewatch or reread or relisten it all over again and still enjoy it. Do not ask me how many times I’ve seen Blade Runner or how many times did Gandalf draw that rune on Bilbo’s door, it’s horrible really. Same goes for stages – even if I know them well enough to be able to say, roughly, what’s coming around the bend, it is never as detailed or thorough to allow me to kick my co-driver out. Each time I tackle the stages in Dirt Rally, I have my co-driver sitting next to me, and no matter which stage it is, I never drive it without feeling at least a bit scared of the unknown. It’s great.
If you wish to keep your rally game fresh, just get a busy lifestyle and play a game with longer stages (Dirt Rally developers did a great job in that area), so you cannot memorize them in one or two gaming sessions. But even if you do manage to conquer them all, modern rally games do not end there, fortunately.