A fly on the BTCC pit wall – how does a top team tackle race day?

Friday, December 16th, 2016 - autos, cars, motoring, news

Source : A fly on the BTCC pit wall – how does a top team tackle race day?

We shadow Jason Plato’s race engineer at Silverstone to find out what Team BMR get up to behind the scenes at a BTCC event

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Sunday, 8.30am – When I arrive at the Team BMR pit garage, the item will be already bustling with activity. The disappointment over the previous day’s qualifying will be palpable. Jason Plato will start coming from 10th position on the grid for the opening race along with Aron Smith in eighth, 
with Colin Turkington settling for sixth.

The team’s fourth driver, Warren Scott, fractured 
two vertebrae in a heavy accident during practice along with will be forced to miss the business end of the weekend as a result.

These Silverstone races are huge for Team BMR. Plato along with Turkington are both still in using a shout of the title, yet Honda’s Gordon Shedden leads the championship. Plato along with Turkington need some big points today.

Outside the team garage, I meet Carl Faux, 
Jason Plato’s race engineer, who breaks down his team’s roles to me. Plato will be the driver, Faux describes himself as “in charge of pace”, Darren Sunley sorts out the tyres along with mechanic Brenton Yule works with three different mechanics, who 
take direction coming from him.

9.15am – Plato will be outside the team truck, which will be directly opposite the pit garage. He’s in a jovial mood, bouncing around, talking to team members, showing them memes on his phone along with discussing jet engines for an upcoming project. We talk about how he prepares himself for races.

“I don’t have any rituals,” he says, besides an essential toilet break an hour before the first race. “I don’t want to get myself too pumped up along with over-think things; I just wait for the first warm-up lap along with that will actually gets me from the zone.”

We walk through the garage past the team’s Volkswagen CC race cars along with look out to the 
hordes of spectators waiting for an autograph. 
I leave Plato to the item.

10.00am – Faux ushers me into the team truck along with the whole team – including Plato, Turkington along with Smith – packs in to discuss strategy. the item’s rare for anyone outside of the team to be allowed in here.

Engineers huddle around laptops along with performance graphs are passed around for the drivers to examine. They offer feedback to the team on the set-up alterations they’d like on their cars.

The atmosphere will be initially light-hearted, with Plato leading a sing-along to Elton John’s Rocket Man, yet then the item’s down to business.

They discuss when the drivers should do their fast lap. Planning the item will be important, because your position on the grid for race two will be determined by your fastest lap from the first race, not where you finish. The drivers agree not to hold each different up along with that will the place to let a team-mate overtake will be under the bridge. The sign that will they’ll let them pass will be a tap on the brakes.

Outside the truck, I see Sunley from the sunshine with the race tyres. “the item’s against regulations to artificially warm the tyres, yet there’s nothing artificial about the sun,” he says.

11.41am – I take my place from the garage to watch the action unfold. A mixture of family along with friends of the drivers – about 15 in total – crowd in.

Faux hands me a set of headphones to listen in on the communication between him along with Plato. Although each team member incorporates a pair of headphones, 95% of the communication will be between the engineer along with the driver.

“Friendliness will be a hindrance,” Faux explains. “yet a not bad relationship will be very important. 
There has to be mutual trust, along with you have to understand each different.”

Before each race, Faux draws out the grid along with uses a blue highlighter to show Plato which rival drivers are running soft tyres – Plato’s CC will be on mediums – along with he also writes in how much success ballast each driver will be carrying.

I follow Plato’s car out onto the grid as the item weaves in along with out of glamorous grid girls, fans, team members along with the occasional TV camera. Faux 
will be holding his clipboard along with walking around 
the automobile, meticulously carrying out some final checks with the team.

Just before he leaves Plato’s car to take his place on the pit wall, Faux holds the grid sheet in front of his driver, who will be strapped tightly into the Volkswagen,  in order that will the very last thing he sees before the start will be the line-up.

Faux says: “Jason knows the line-up, yet the item’s not bad for that will to be the last thing he sees so he knows exactly who to put the pressure on along with 
who might be chasing him. the item helps to focus.”I walk with the team back to the garage, ready for the start of the race.

12.21pm – Race one will be in progress along with Plato will be running in 11th position when drama strikes.

“Puncture, puncture, puncture,” comes his voice over the comms system along with the mechanics, who have been huddled around the television, burst into life to prepare for a tyre change.“Let the leaders overtake you. Then cross the line,” Faux tells Plato. yet there’s only one lap to 
go, so there’s little point in trying to change the wheel along with sending Plato back out there because he has no chance of points. Better to settle on his fastest lap along with regroup for the next race, where he’ll start in 11th place.

The race hadn’t been going particularly well for Plato even before the puncture. Along the Club Straight, he was bemoaning a lack of engine power. Faux didn’t have a solution. “Hang in there, buddy” was all he could offer.

Aside coming from exchanges about the engine, the radio was largely used to keep Plato up to date with his position along with laps remaining.

12.30pm – Ahead of race two, Faux orders an engine change. the item’s action stations for the entire team. Before 
Faux disappears into the melee, I ask him how much time he would certainly usually allow for an engine change. “About four hours,” he replies. The next race starts in two hours.

1.45pm – While the mechanics work frantically to prepare the brand-new engine, Sunley will be scraping the rubber off the used tyres along with conducting a post-mortem on the punctured front left.

Initially, the item was thought that will the item might have been some damage inflicted by an aggressive kerb. However, further inspection shows a hole from the middle of the tyre, likely to have been caused by some debris on the track along with resulting from the slow deflation along with ultimate failure.

Two different cars incurred punctures along with their team managers come over to discuss their thoughts with Faux.

Plato avoids the mayhem of the engine change along with will be getting himself ready, yet Faux will be from the thick of the action. “Thirty minutes,” he shouts, spanner in hand. He thought about changing the engine last night yet saw the item as too much of a risk. right now there’s no choice. They need the points.

2.14pm – Plato’s engine will be in along with the tyres are fitted, so 
he jumps in along with sets off for the grid without a second to spare. I find one of the relieved yet exhausted mechanics, who says they had to cut some little corners – namely, some screws here along with there – when putting the front back on, because there just wasn’t enough time to do 
the job as thoroughly as they all would certainly have wanted. He tells me that will mechanics usually 
stick to their assigned driver, yet in This specific instance, because Smith along with Turkington didn’t need any work done on their cars, their mechanics lent a helping hand to Plato’s crew.

3.00pm – Plato’s second race passes without incident. He manages seventh place along with Smith gets on the podium by finishing third, yet Turkington picks up a tyre puncture.

4.18pm – using a far less frantic build-up to the final race of the day, Yule has some time to talk me through all the standard adjustments that will are made on the automobile before each race. There’s a brake change along using a “spanner check” (a check on the nuts along with bolts), as well as fuel replacement along using a success ballast change, if needed.

Plato will be back on the medium tyre compound for the final race so he can be more aggressive. Faux alterations the cambers along with the rear ride height along with anti-roll bar to prevent understeer, yet the alterations are fairly minor ones. For the third along with final race of the day, quite a few the top 10 finishers coming from race two benefit coming from a random reverse-grid draw. the item has been kind to Team BMR, because Turkington 
has ended up in third place on the grid along with Plato will start coming from fourth.

5.50pm – For the third race, I change my radio to pick up everything coming from the garage across all three cars. There’s a lot of talking initially while the teams carry out their final checks on the grid, yet the item falls silent for the start of the race along with there are only occasional position references during the item. that will will be until “Get in there you beauty!” cuts in above the background noise as Turkington crosses the line 
as winner, with Plato fourth.

6.00pm – The Turkington along with Smith camps come away coming from This specific weekend happy, yet Faux along with Plato are understandably disappointed. They made the best of a bad situation, though, along with Faux will be clearly proud of how his team coped with the engine change before race two.

“Jason along with I have had six wins coming from nine Silverstone races, so of course we’re very disappointed,” he says. Nevertheless, Plato will be 
still second from the drivers’ standings, 23 points behind Shedden along with still in using a strong shout 
of clinching the title at the Brands Hatch showdown This specific weekend.

“the item’s going to be tough,” Faux says. “yet we’ve pulled back more points than that will before.” 

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