2 August 2011 // 10:42
By GP2 Series - 5 comments
The first thing we do when we arrive at the track is to open the truck, and then put out the materials for the pitstop training: all the boys travel together, and we get in quite early. Denis (Thomas, fellow truckie) and me ensure that the bottles are loaded with air and then put out the guns, the hoses and tyres, rear and front jack and the tray. We do the pitstop training, all the team, and after that I load the bottles again for the race.
And then we prepare the tyres: we get the tyres in parc ferme, at 11.00 this morning. We work closely with the engineers to make the good pressure, the best one possible depending on the temperature and the conditions, and this will take a good part of the morning. After this we eat, change clothes, and prepare the fuel for the car: for me on car 8 with Vietoris and my teammate Dennis on car 7 with Clos. It's the same procedure for each race, but it's not the same volume!
We speak again with the engineers, and they take the decision and we follow their instruction. I don't know exactly how much we talk with the engineers, but it’s a lot: there is constant communication with the engineers, as they are ones who decide everything about the car, how much pressure for the tyres, the fuel loads and these things. It's not a complete day, but we do talk very much!
A lot of people think a truckie drives the truck to the circuit and then sits down for 3 days: it is true that there is this kind of truckie too, working for some teams just to drive the truck here and back again, but in my case no! We help the mechanics a lot, in case of a crash or something: we are able to work on the car too (Arnaud used to be a mechanic before becoming a truckie), so we are always ready to help the boys.
And then we load up the quad bike to be ready for the race, and I drive it. I don’t know why I drive it: perhaps it’s because I am the biggest! (laughs) In the race to the pitlane, maybe I can push the others out of the way! But I have always driven the quad: maybe it is just that I have been here the longest.
In the pitlane we prepare everything: air bottles, tyres, hoses, fuel if we need it, as in qualifying and in free practice. I make sure that everything will be ready to go well, and then load again the tyres and take them to the grid and unload everything, so everything is prepared. And then I check the pressures again!
When the race starts we get ready for the pitstop: I am on the rear jack. When we are back from the grid we need to prepare ourselves: with the radio, because we have headsets which are changed for the earplug and helmet, and then ensure everything is ready for the pitstop. And then we wait.
I don’t really worry about the pitstop: in the beginning, maybe the first years, maybe you are, well ... it's impressive, no? But it becomes normal: not a lot of pressure, is what I want to say. Today they crashed into a mechanic at Rapax: they broke a hose, I think maybe they hit the guy in his leg? It was the guy on the front left, maybe 5 metres away, and I didn't see it! I didn’t even know until Thomas (Couyotopoulo, team manager) told me! The thing is to be focused on the moment…
After the race I drive back and change the overalls, and we start to wash the tyres from the race while we wait for the car from parc ferme. When the car arrives we look at the fuel, wash the body work, work with the pressures again, help the mechanics if they need it, and do the tyre measurements for the wear of the tyres, too. Then we clean everything, the rims and everything, and ask if there is anything else we can help to do. And then maybe we even have something to eat! (laughs)
We are on the road all the time, just driving or at the race! We don't go back to the factory all the time, though: for example in this case we have Germany in 2 weeks, so we check the car here (in Silverstone) and then go straight to Germany. After this we discuss the travel with the team manager: we more or less check the calendar at the beginning of the season and we can plan what we will do, where we will travel with the truck so everything is in the right place at the right time.
Just for the travel you need to prepare the truck, reserve the ferries, and book anything else we need for the journey. For my work, for the management of the truck and everything we have to prepare a lot, and also discuss it with the team manager so he knows where we are: we have to manage everything to do with the truck.
And there is no excuse: you have to be there, whatever happens!
But we know all the truckies, and when it is back to back we are all driving together. Each team has a place in the circuit, an order, so we are not alone. I do enjoy it, yes, but it is my work! I can't complain ... you need to like it to do it, and it's the same for the mechanics. Each person who works here must like it. You like it too!