The World Rally Championship is the pinnacle of the sport we love. The cars, the drivers, the engineers, the designers, the mechanics: all involved in this series are at the top of their fields too.
The Rally Sweden is undoubtedly one of the toughest rallies on world rallying’s calendar, and this also proved to be a testing event for mechanics and team support personnel working the freezing conditions.
The brilliant website http://www.bestofrallylive.com went beind-the-scenes to investigate and understand what it takes to work in these conditions…
Best-of-RallyLive met with Laurent, the guy in charge of the DS3 WRC’s gearboxes. He was involved from the start with French team’s WRC campaign.
“The conditions in which we work have evolved significantly in the space of 10 years,” said Laurent. “Today, we work on the cars in closed, well-heated tents. We also lay a wooden floor instead of the plastic sheeting we used in the past. So that’s more comfortable, too.
“Citroën has always provided us with appropriate clothing, but this year we have the added benefit of boots with heated soles, so that’s nice. Before, we used to stuff them with newspaper to keep our feet warm.
“Our work is a little more complex here, if only because of all the bulky clothing we have to wear. Even so, we soon forget the cold when the cars come into service and we don’t take any longer to do the different jobs. On Saturday, for example, we changed a gearbox and clutch assembly in the same time as we do on other rallies.
“At each service halt, we begin by removing the ice that has built up under the cars [between 10 and 20kg!], but that doesn’t take any longer than removing mud from the cars on, say, Rally GB. In Sweden, the cars are actually fitted with less underbody protective shielding than on gravel. They are nearly in asphalt trim!”
Laurent remembers working for the team in 2004, the year Sebastien Loeb won the event, when the thermometer dipped to -37°C. The conditions were marginally warmer when the test team mechanics had to cope with -30°C while they were here last week, before looking after Hirvonen’s car on the Rally Finnskog. The WRC mechanics who are here this weekend will be back in the cosily warm workshops in Vélizy, France, putting the finishing touches to the DS3 WRCs that will compete in Mexico.”