Endurance is the name of the game
Part 3 of Nathan Woolford's features on Aston Martin Racing and endurance motorsport, which looks at the ways in which an endurance racecar driver requires the same physical and mental attributes to that of an endurance athlete.
The crucial role of the pit crew
In the action-packed world of international motorsport, there is nothing quite like the frantic role of the pit crew – one of the most important elements of any race team.
A pit stop can be one of the most exciting parts of any race. The margin of victory in auto racing is measured in tenths and hundreds of seconds, and a good performance by the pit crew can often make the difference in a close race.
Just ask Aston Martin Racing’s Warren Jones, who is at the heart of the action every race day in his role as the team’s tyre technician. Endurance race team Aston Martin Racing compete in the Intercontinental Le Mans Cup and American Le Mans Series, taking part in events across the world, with the pit crew always ready to apply their well-rehearsed and faultless pit stop routine at each destination.
Jones, 28, has been involved at Aston Martin Racing for three years, and also works as the team’s technical buyer and parts co-ordinator in addition to his race day duties. However, it is his role with the pit crew which provides him with an adrenaline rush he describes as being unlike any other, and it is a job he insists is unique in the motorsport world.
He explains: “The pit stops are frantic. We have a well-rehearsed routine which we all know. We practice pit stops in the week and everyone is comfortable with everything that they have to do.
“My main job is to keep an eye on the tyres in the tent, and I am in constant contact with the engineer, while I can hear the drivers and everyone on the team on the team radio.
“Working on the pit crew provides a real adrenaline rush – there is nothing like it really. I thrive on that adrenaline, and I find it enhances my performance. Being part of the pit crew is definitely the best part of my job.”
Jones insists that there is nothing quite like a race day experience. He is involved in all sorts of activities whenever Aston Martin Racing are in action, liaising with various team officials as he strives to make sure everything is in place before the waving of the start flag.
He claims that a well-rehearsed routine, faultless teamwork and the use of sports supplement Quick Energy are all important factors in his quest for perfection.
Assessing his duties on a race day, he explains: “During race events, I am up early in the morning to do tyre pressure checks. This has to be done first thing and I have to check the cold tyre pressure. We have 10 sets of wheels for an event – including medium, soft, hard, intermediate and wets – and they all have a different tyre pressure, so we have to set them to the pressure given to us by the Michelin assistant.
The key is everything has to be done fast.
“So I liaise with the engineer and go with what he recommends. The temperature of the track has to be taken into account.
“From there, the tyres are pressured and we then have a test session on the track. We have a large tyre tent which is heated inside and contains rails for tyres to be placed on. The engineer will say what tyres need to be warmed so that the temperature is right and, before the car goes out, he will say what set he wants, and we will take them out to the pit crew so they can fit them onto the car.
“The car wil come in for a pit stop to be checked over. I go into the pit lane to check out all four tyre pressures. I get what I need, report to the engineer, and make a record of what we’re going with.
“During pit stops in the races, the car will come into the pits, then we will do the fuel first, then the driver change, and then the tyre change, in that order. Everyone in the team has radios and headsets, and the engineer co-ordinates most of what goes on and tells me when a driver is coming in, so that’s when I get the tyres out of the tyre tent and ready for the pit stop.
“The key is everything has to be done fast – more time in the pits means less time on the track. The pit crew fit the tyres as fast as possible, then I take the used tyres to the back of the garage. Sometimes we re-use them, and we decide whether or not to scrap them or use them again, maybe the next day.”
One of the most significant factors in the Aston Martin Racing pit crew’s success is the group’s collective ability to stay sharp and focused, particularly during 24-hour endurance races such as Le Mans.
Much of this success has been attributed to the team’s use of sports supplement Quick Energy, which has become an essential part of Aston Martin Racing’s behind the scenes set-up. The supplement is used by drivers prior to getting behind the wheel, and has also become a key component for all pit crew members, who use it to keep them focused and alert during the frantic bursts of activity involved in pit stops.
Jones adds: “Quick Energy has been really good, and has really worked out for us. I use it, and tend to take it every four to six hours during a race day. I have it in the morning, then another shot just before lunch, and sometimes more during the 24-hour races and longer events.
“It makes us all a lot more alert, enhances concentration and takes fatigueness away, which is a huge help. We all need to stay alert in the pit lane, and Quick Energy plays a major role in helping us stay focused. It’s not like anything I’ve ever had before, and it really works.”
Learn more online at Quick Energy