In order to help teams secure coveted world titles, there lies a group of unsung heroes behind-the-scenes that turn drivers into world champions. A crucial factor for championship winning teams are the people in-charge of pushing the car through to the finish line. They are the support crew that backs World Rally Champions.
Rally pit crews
In the World Rally Championship (WRC), there is a limited amount of time for engineers and mechanics to perform repairs on the cars in between stage rounds. This means that a dedicated team of engineers and mechanics need to run countless hours of simulation drills for practice in order to service the vehicle within the stipulated time so that they don’t receive a penalty that would affect the results.
FIA has a limitation on the number of personnel in the WRC, with up to 8 persons if 2 cars are entered; or 12 persons if 3 cars are entered by a Manufacturer throughout the season. This works out to having 4 service personnel per vehicle with 1 medical assistant in case of any emergencies.
Rally pit crews are essentially the backbone of the support team. Over the race weekend, the disciplined team is able to work on fixing the sustained damages within scheduled time limits of 15, 30, or 45mins depending on which section of stages the rally is taking place in. The drivers provide feedback with regard to what damages need to be repaired throughout the service stops of the stages, while the engineers and mechanics work on them.
Before the actual event, the reconnaissance team that consists of the driver and co-driver usually drive the stages ahead of the actual event to check the accuracy of pacenotes that are provided by the organizers or to generate a set of pacenotes for co-drivers in the event that pacenotes are not provided.
Even though it may seem like the team is just out for a drive, the responsibility is actually massive. Crucial information such as taking notes of specific areas of the different stages can make or break championship winning runs. Drivers are able to soar through stages fearlessly due to the reconnaissance done before the race, with the aid of their co-driver making on-the-fly changes.
Informing drivers of crucial information such as road terrain changes and at what speeds drivers should tackle corners at, pacenotes boil down and differ depending on the dynamics of the driver and co-driver and may not be the same across all race teams.
Most co-drivers are also considered the first line of communication for teams. In any case of an accident or breakdown, other co-drivers who drive past are often the first to inform officials of where and which competitors car broke down or got into an accident.
The support team rarely receive commendation but most of the time, they are all unique individuals that are the best at their specific skillsets. Just as important as the drivers, building a strong foundation of the support teams can also determine if a team wins a championship.
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