It takes a lot of means, time and sacrifices to run a top class car racing team. We look at how the start of the season is going for the IDEC SPORT’s LMP2s.
While you can use your car whenever you want, when looking at car racing, it is not the same things. It is not just a matter of turning the key to start the mechanical gems making up the IDEC SPORT fleet.
A long time before entering the circuits, IDEC SPORT prepares its cars in the workshops weeks beforehand, as there is simply so much work to do.
A car that has just completed a season is taken apart and stripped right down. This process takes a skilled mechanic a full two weeks. While every little part is examined, some go back to their manufacturer to be analysed. That is the case for the engine, gear box and steering wheel. IDEC SPORT replaces all the parts that have reached the end of their life (based on the mileage) and others are examined to check for wear and changed if required. Each part is labelled and cleaned. At that point, there is just an empty shell remaining and that looks just as much like a plane as a car.
Refitting everything takes three weeks and all the specifications from the manufacturer need to be respected. The car is then started to check that all the systems are working and there are no leaks. But it is not quite as simple as that. The engine needs to be connected up for thirty minutes before starting, so that the water reaches 50°C. This process has to be carried out each time before the car is driven.
Once the car is running and run in, they need to think about all the logistics concerning the competition. At IDEC SPORT, no fewer than 3 trailer trucks and 24 people are involved to take care of the two LMP2s. The trucks are filled with the vital parts to ensure the cars run, as well as spare parts and everything else that is required by the racing team, such as everything the engineers need. That has to be connected to a special network to connect to the cars. Then, there is all the equipment to set up the pit stop and for the tyres (heated cabinets, hub caps, various types of rubber…). Obviously nothing can be forgotten and they have to adapt to the timetable for everyone involved in the team, including mechanics and drivers, as well as the engineers, the bosses and the communications team.
If everything goes well, the prototypes go into their garage on the day before the competition. There is still a lot of work to do and all the technical checks to be carried out. It is these checks that determine whether the car has the right to be driven or not. The same goes for the drivers, who have to check all their gear. Safety standards are very high in car racing, in order to eliminate as many risks as possible.
A car like an LMP2 is a precision instrument, a mechanical gem, which once out on the track, roars away. But in the pit and at almost every other time, the car does not touch the ground. It is moved around on casters, to avoid any damage and disturbing any of the adjustments, or it is raised up on its jacks. This may seem odd for a monster that zooms around the bends so close to the ground with several hundred kilos of aerodynamic pressure when driving at more than 180 mph.
The cars are checked each time they leave the track, whether that means a race, trials or the qualifiers. The cycle starts all over again. That is what life is all about in a car racing team.