The most recent World Touring Car Championship event in Portimao, Portugal, marked the end of the European season; up next for the Arena-run Team Aon squad are the challenges of the long haul events. But its not just the new tracks and jet-leg that the team has to contend with. Getting the cars, spares, garage equipment and even the personnel to the races is just as challenging.
At the workshop in Littlehampton the team has been working non-stop since arriving back from the Algarve as they get everything prepared and ready for the cars to be loaded as they head off to Holland before theyre packed away and shipped to Brazil ahead of the next round of the championship. We spoke to the teams Race Truckies Peter Harris, Colin Hide and Greg Senior to find out what it takes to transport an entire WTCC race team across the world.
Of course its a challenge says Hide, before we do anything we sit down as an entire group and go through everything that needs to be loaded, when it needs to be loaded and how were going to go about that. More often than not things crop up which mean were unable to follow our original plan to the letter!
Planning for a long haul event isnt a quick packing exercise. Everything has to be logged and decided months in advance. The team have to make sure that they have enough freight boxes to pack all the equipment theyll need. The precious cargo is then transported to Holland in the Team Aon Race Trucks before every last box is loaded into two 42 foot containers which will be their new home for the rest of the season along with every other piece of equipment from up and down the WTCC pit lane.
You have to remember adds Harris, Were not just packing for one race like we normally would; were packing for five. So we have to think in advance of everything that were going need and make sure that its all packed because once its out there it could be difficult to get what we need at short notice.
Everyone pitches in because each department needs different things at a race meeting. For example the engineers and management will need a printer and office supplies so theyll box it up and well find a way of loading it.
Unlike a European race the trucks are left behind and everything is moved into containers for the long journeys. Effectively were packing two truckloads into two smaller containers, says Hide. We have to find the space for things and try and load so that the last thing that goes in will be the first thing we need at the other end. But you also have to think about the small things that are needed too such as all the tools, brake pads as well as the elements people dont necessarily think about like Helmet dryers for the drivers which during hot races they will most probably want.
The cars are the last things packed. Senior adds, The first thing we load will be components such as tyres and tyre racks because we wont need these until were actually on track. The last thing to be loaded is the cars and thats purely because the mechanics are working on them up until the very last minute of packing.
Although there are always extras; Then finally I guess its the things we have forgotten, adds Hide, which get loaded last of all!
But before any of this can happen its Travel Co-ordinater Michele Quaifes job to make sure that every team member can get to each race, We get a lot of support from the championship organisers when it comes to these events. I still book all the flights and hotels but they will send a list of hotels where they have rooms exclusively reserved for team members. The biggest change I notice between the two parts of the season is needing a Visa for visiting countries like the USA, China and Japan other than that I try and treat these events like normal round but just add a little extra time to get everything planned an booked.
With everything packed and the logistics sorted its then time for the entire team to jump on a plane, head to Brazil and unload the containers for the first of the long haul races. Team Aons adventure in the WTCC continues!