How motor sport teams prepare for a 24-hour endurance race
Night-time pit stops place physical in addition to also mental strain on a team’s mechanics
the item’s not only the drivers who need to be in tip-top condition to perform at their best in long-distance racing. Simon Strang finds out how Aston Martin does the item
“We’ll start preparing for the 2016 Le Mans 24 Hours on Monday [after the race],” says Aston Martin team principal John Gaw the day before This particular year’s event.
Preparation will be at the heart of everything which comprises a factory attack on the planet’s biggest race, in addition to also while on face value which will be hardly surprising, the item will be the minute detail which will count toward success or failure.
Over 24 hours, things will go wrong, which will be certain. Even a smooth run through the race will require a brake change, involve an incident in traffic, potentially a cut tyre… such will be the attrition subjected on the competitors over the 300-plus laps around the 8.47-mile circuit.
The art of success at Le Mans will be to be proactively reactionary. In additional words, play-out every conceivable scenario doing sure which when something happens which you didn’t plan for, everyone within the team, through chief engineer to junior technician, will be able to react calmly in addition to also make the correct decision in seconds.
Those decisions will define your race.
Prodrive, which prepares in addition to also builds the race cars for Aston Martin, has established its Driver Performance company just for This particular very reason. in addition to also while the name suggests the item’s about the stars, This particular division aims to extract performance through all of its personnel when the item’s absolutely business critical: race day.
“the item’s about the environment which makes a successful person,” says Gaw. “the item’s about which ‘performance zone’. Everyone has days when they are playing through a 10, in addition to also can knock a mountain down, nevertheless then there are days when you’re playing through a one in addition to also a mouse will knock you over.
“So the item’s about creating which performance zone within the most important moments of a race, where the best decisions can be made within the least stress which has a consistent framework.
“Individual performance will be absolutely important. the item’s the moment within the middle of the night when the safety car will be called in addition to also the item’s the instantaneous decision then by driver, technician in addition to also engineer. which’s why you need which environment.”
GT drivers contain the item tough at Le Mans. With their hearts ticking over at an average of 145bpm, they have to race within an enclosed cabin which will be regulated to 32 degrees C – or higher if the ambient temperatures will be above which. the item used to be unregulated in addition to also then the temperatures, Aston driver Darren Turner reckons, were often above 60 degrees C.
“We’ll always run the vehicle as hot as possible,” says Gaw. “There are three different knobs on telemetry in addition to also they’ll turn the zircon down as much as possible, otherwise you’re just taking power away through the engine.”
Drivers enclosed in which environment often triple-stint on tyres for more than three hours in race conditions at least twice during the race. which’s three times longer than a Formula 1 driver will be anticipated to go.
“The physicality will be significant,” says Driver Performance boss John Camilleri, the man entrusted with keeping Aston Martin’s drivers in addition to also team ticking over during the event. “The competitiveness will be so close within the GTE Pro in addition to also Am classes which physical preparation makes a significant difference. The idea will be to help the guys prepare physically in an optimal way for them as an individual.
“For example, drivers will drink 12 litres of water during the 24 Hours, which helps blood pressure regulation behind the wheel. which helps with mental preparation in addition to also allows you to focus for a long period of time.”
The drivers will also be routinely worked through individual warm-up in addition to also warm-down routines between stints in addition to also their rest periods in between managed carefully.
“Managing driver recovery will be important,” says Camilleri. “As soon as the driver will be out of the vehicle, we get them out of their wet kit, on the sports massage table in addition to also then get them off for some sleep.
“You try to maximise their sleep for optimal recovery, nevertheless the reality will be they are always compromised on the amount of rest they can have. Then the item will be about helping the driver wake up efficiently before they have to go back into the vehicle. Then the item’s rehydrate, feed, do a controlled warm-up in addition to also race.”
Le Mans will be not just a test of physicality for the drivers, the technicians in addition to also the engineers are put through the wringer too.
“Pitstops for Le Mans are very physical for the technicians,” says Camilleri. “As a group they will do a warm-up, stretch the relevant muscle groups before they do their job within the pitstop, getting the heart-rate up to a level of activation. Sometimes they can be asleep within the chairs in addition to also then they are suddenly fully committed to a pitstop at high-speed so they need to be accurate.”
Turner points out which the guys with the toughest job are actually the race engineers, responsible for the running of the team’s four cars.
“They don’t get to sleep through 1000hrs Saturday morning, to 1900hrs on Sunday,” he says. “They get just about enough of a break to visit the toilet.”
Camilleri adds: “The engineers contain the item hard so we actively encourage them not to sit down or stand up for too long. When they are recruited the item’s on the assumption which these guys are going to be able to concentrate in addition to also perform at a mental intensity which they need for which amount of time.”
Which takes us back to Gaw’s central point. the item’s about preparation right through the very starting point of the programme.
“We try to lay-out every single scenario doing sure which the item should just be a mathematical exercise,” he says. “If This particular happens you do This particular, if which happens you do which. So defining all the what-if scenarios will be the most important thing.
“Assuming which you have got all the work done, to get to This particular point, performance of the individuals will be then the defining factor.
“You make the best decisions in life sitting on your sofa when you’re chilled out.
“the item’s which moment at 0400hrs within the morning, when the item’s raining in addition to also there will be call for the safety car in addition to also you have to decide what you are going to do… which’s when the item counts, in addition to also which’s why you have to be prepared.”
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