WRC Diary: Rallye Deutschland
Myerscough College Motorsports students are offered a unique opportunity to gain practical experience of working at the highest level of professional motorsport. Thanks to our close working partnership with Ford World Rally organisation, M-Sport, our students travel the World to work on as WRC mechanics on the FIA WRC Academy.
This week our students returned from Germany after working Stage 9 of the WRC Academy - ADAC Rallye Deutschland. It's difficult to capture what the experience of working on the WRC Academy involves or what the experience teaches our students, so we asked one of them to record the experience in a special 'WRC Diary':
Day 1: Next stop Germany!
The team assemble at our College motorsport workshop and load up the College minibus. After 10 minutes spent fiddling with the Sat Nav (it's still programmed from our last WRC trip to Finland!) we leave Myerscough at 1:30pm and travel to Manchester Airport to catch our flight to Cologne Airport in Germany.
We arrive in Germany four hours later and make our way to the hotel which will be our home for the next 4 days. An early night in preparation for the week ahead.
Day 2: Scrutineering
Depart from the hotel at 9am to leave enough time to get to the WRC Service Park, a 30 minute drive from the hotel. The Wednesday before a rally is always Scrutineering, which means race crews must prepare cars to agreed WRC regulations. We fitted new tracker systems and modifications to the cars ready for the first stage. A fairly quiet day so back to the hotel early to get a good night's rest.
Day 3: Shakedown day!
An important day in the preparation stages for a WRC event. Shakedown is a period used to test the car and make sure the car is ready to go. If there are any problems or further modifications required to the car, the Shakedown will identify them, allowing mechanics to make final changes to the cars.
We depart the hotel at 8am (getting earlier every day!) and arrive at the Service Park to begin Shakedown. All the cars were prepped and ready to go but an accident means Shakedown is cancelled early. With Shakedown cancelled the rest of the day was spent cleaning cars and tidying the service park, allowing a reasonable early finish and back to the hotel for a bit of relaxation.
Day 4: WRC Germany is GO!
The start of the rally is always an exciting and very busy day for mechanics. We leave the hotel at 8:30am and arrive at Service Park for 9am. The first stage gets underway at 10am. The team's first big job is the first service of the rally - crews have a strict time limit of 30minutes to service the cars and get them ready for the afternoon stages. As soon as service is completed the team packs up and heads to the remote service area (out on stage) before the final service of the day at 9pm.
There was a slight delay after new driver Martin Koci's car breaks down in the middle of the stage. After rescuing the stranded driver our crew is required to make minor alternations to one of the Academy cars, including rear lights to change, a couple of gearbox's to replace and fix driveshaft's.
No major damage to any of the cars but a late finish in store for the team after the end of the first day's stages! In total the team gets 4 hours sleep ....probably the most sleep we'll get for the rest of the rally.
Day 5: A busy final day at WRC Germany
The Rally starts at 6am today so the team are up and away from the hotel at 5am. One of our team, Alex Curtis, helps Driver Phil Short by navigating him to the remote service location - a real baptism of fire for Alex reading maps on his first ever trial as a WRC navigator!
First service of the cars begins at 8:15am followed by loading cars onto the transporters to drive to the remote service venue some 70+ km's away. Only four people and crew members are allowed to touch each car at this stage so teams must be very careful to keep within the regulations.
Only parts carried in the car itself can be used during the stages today so final checks made before we depart. No great dramas on today's stage (thankfully!) - a couple of crews had in-stage punctures - so we had to load a few ragged tyres into vans before we returned back to the WRC service park for the main service at 4:45pm.
With the 30 minute service complete, the team have to load up the cars and all the gear into the race trucks (again!) and drive back to remote service park, followed by another 15 minute service and another drive back to the main service area - lots of back and forth as each journey takes around 2 hours to complete.
The team complete the final 10 minute service and then we can all relax as the rally officially ends. After grabbing a quick bite to eat, we return to the service park to watch the prize giving ceremonies and watch Elfyn Evans celebrate his third WRC Academy win in a row followed by the famous champagne spraying celebration!
The day still isn't over for the crews however - we now have to pack all the gear and equipment away and make sure the cars are safe to transport from Germany to Poland. We have to load the cars onto 3 giant transporters, which means loading 4 cars into each lorry, plus all the service equipment. Once the cars are safely loaded we then start work on the giant Ford hospitality centre - this takes another 2 hours to load.
After a hard 21 hour day working the final stages of WRC Germany we return to our hotel at 2am.
Day 6: Homeward Bound
The team wake up and leave the hotel at 2pm for the drive back to the airport. We arrive at the airport at 5pm in time for a 7:15pm flight back to Manchester. Now back in the UK all that's left to do is pick up the College minibus and head back to Myerscough. The team go their separate ways and another WRC experience is over.....until next time when we will be working on WRC Rallye France!
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