Logistics make the difference in the Dakar In the hardest rally of the world, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Team gets close to perfect order despite the surrounding chaos In addition to great drivers and mechanics, what makes the ...
Logistics make the difference in the Dakar
In the hardest rally of the world, the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Team gets close to perfect order despite the surrounding chaos
In addition to great drivers and mechanics, what makes the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Team, the best team in the car class, is its extraordinary organisation as regards structure, components, transport... Logistics that coordinate with Swiss precision a team of 60 people, nine trucks and five Mitsubishi Pajero of the assistances, in addition to the five competition vehicles, along more than 9,000 km of deserts, tracks and roads. The peculiarity of the team's logistics is neither the quality nor the amount of its means, but the methodology of their work. Everything is planned and calculated, from the clothing of each of the team members to the placing of the vehicles, material and tents in each of the places they stop. David Serieys is responsible for the team's logistics and the person in charge of seeing that everything is set, done and working perfectly on the ground.
During the African rally, the team is made up by 60 persons, but in stages such as those carried out in Spain and the rest day in Atar there were 71 and 76 people respectively. The staff is made up by the five drivers and navigators competing, the Team Manager, two people in charge of the press, one physiotherapist, two cooks and all the technicians and mechanics plus truck drivers. When it's time to move on, every one of them has a fixed place in the same vehicle throughout the race. The Team Manager and the press people travel by plane and the others overland. In each of the Mitsubishi Pajero assistance cars, each marked with its corresponding number, there will be the same people covering the assistance route throughout the race. These assistance cars take the technical manager, the deputy team manager, the logistics manager and the physiotherapist, mechanics, engineers, transmission and electrical systems specialists.
Of the nine trucks Mitsubishi takes to the race, seven are service trucks and the other two are race assistance trucks. Three people travel in each of the trucks, which are identified by a number imposed by the organisation and a letter for the team's internal use. A and I are assistance trucks, while the service trucks get the letters B to H. These letters are especially useful when it comes to setting up the camp to know where you can find what. The service trucks travel from one bivouac to the other taking lots of parts and spares, bodyworks, tyres, tents, food and even a shower, to have everything organised and set for the arrival of the competitors and the assistances. The only truck completely different to the others, not because of its look but because of its content is the E truck, the logistics truck. In addition to the driver, this is the one transporting the cooks and the baggage of almost the whole team, a small kitchen, provisions and a shower which is mounted in the rear side. It actually wouldn't be necessary to carry neither food nor a kitchen to the bivouac because the organisation is responsible for the participants' food, but Mitsubishi considers that it's important to contribute with some comfort for the team given the hard conditions they have to stand in the Dakar, offering its members the possibility of enjoying a small catering without having the need to go to the organisation's tents. This is something you really appreciate in such an uncomfortable surrounding. Of the six tons moved by the team during the race, four to five are carried by the seven service trucks, while the assistance trucks carry one ton each.
The two assistance trucks transport the basic needs for any of the competition cars during the race. Shovels to dig in the sand, tyres, shock absorbers, small spare parts... They cover the same route as the race cars, and should any one of them not be able to continue, they would be able to tow them to the camp, as happened to Andrea Mayer during the tenth stage. She managed to reach the camp at 5 o'clock in the morning thanks to one of these trucks.
Of all the material, the bulkiest are probably the tyres. For the whole race the team has 360 tyres available for the five race cars, plus five additional tyres for each of the Mitsubishi Pajero assistance cars and four for each of the trucks. In total, more than 420 tyres. Two thirds were carried by the trucks, but the remaining third was taken to Atar, Mauritania, in a 32 m3 cargo space the team rented in the plane chartered by the organisation for the rest day. The space was used to provide the team with spare parts and other needs but essentially it was used for the tyres. Another important aspect of this race is the fuel. The team needs approximately 27,000 litres fuel for the racing cars and 100,000 litres diesel oil for the trucks and assistance cars. An amount that, both due to its volume and for safety reasons, is transported by the organisation. The teams only need to pick up their drums everyday from the replenishment plane.
The importance of organisation
The Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Team has a map indicating how all vehicles and team members have to be located in the bivouac. On one side there is the resting area with the tents of the team members and two big common tents. In one of them the catering and a working table and the other is used as a resting and massage place. The logistics truck and the five Mitsubishi Pajero assistance cars are parked beside those tents. On the other side there is the working area with the race cars. These are located in two rows in the centre of the working area and the remaining eight trucks (six service and two race assistance) are parked concentrically. Andrea Mayer's pick-up in front of truck B, which is the one carrying her spare parts and Nani Roma's Mitsubishi Montero MPR10 in front of truck C, for the same reason. The work on the Mitsubishis of Masuoka, Alphand and Peterhansel, is done in the second row; they have truck H carrying their specific spare parts. Trucks D, F y G, transporting common material for the three vehicle types, close the structure. Finally, the assistance trucks (A and I) stay on the side with easiest access, because they are always the last ones to arrive and the first ones to start for the next stage.
In order to improve comfort on the one side and efficiency on the other, the team also rents local services such as hotel rooms or villas to allow the drivers a bit of rest, tents, cars to move away from the bivouac and even minibuses. Everything is planned; they have even rented two buses in case any of the Mitsubishi Motors Repsol ATS Team drivers takes the victory in Dakar, to transport the team and guests to the celebration. Will they use them? The question will be answered in only two days.