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How to Win at American Le Mans Series (Audi R10)

Discussion in 'Events outside the UK' started by Andreas_D, Mar 14, 2011.

  1. Andreas_D
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    Andreas_D New Member

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    [Mar 14, 2011]
    This is it! The grand finale. The last race of the 2007 American Le Mans Series. Smells from smoking tires and glowing-red brakes fill the afternoon air of the undulating rolling hills of Monterey, California. LMP2 Acura ARX-01, GT2 Ferrari F430 GT, LMP2 Porsche GT3 RS Spyder, and GT1 Corvette C6.R burble thunderously as they brake and downshift in a packed formation to make turn four near the Yokohama foot-bridge at Laguna Seca raceway. In the middle of this pack is the mysteriously quiet Audi R10. The only thing I can hear from this engineering masterpiece is the whizzing noise of the cross-drilled carbon disc brake and occasionally the soft burble of the 650 hp 811 ft-lb V12 TDI engine...

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    The paddock is hiving with activities too. Rows of truck trailers that have transformed into sophisticated portable car shops are packed in grid formation. A boxy plain trailer once unpacked becomes a car shop complete with the enclosing tent. This scene reminds me of the 18-wheeler Optimus Prime of the Transformer movie. A metallic hospital-sterile drawer is next to each race car keeping the tools organized. The wide door on the trailer’s side provide a view into the transparent Plexiglas closets that store turbochargers, exhaust pipes, cylinder heads, pistons, gearboxes, struts, and many other parts. The mechanics have everything they need to rebuild a race car in a few hours. Every car nut is ogling and drooling over these impressive portable shops wishing they have similar setup at home...

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    Most people only see the cheering, the victory hugs, the high fives, the flashing cameras, the champagne, the glamorous models, and the winning drivers at the podium waving their giant trophies at the end of the race. Many fans don’t really see the back breaking efforts that the people behind the scene do to win the podium spots. These people are the backbone of the racing team. There are more than four dozen men and women who provide Capello, McNish, Rockenfeller, and Werner two reliable R10’s.To the outsiders, they are the nameless faces in red Audi Sport uniform performing various mechanical tasks at the pit and the portable shops. But there is more. There are overseas logisticians who ensure that parts, oil, and fuel from Germany arrive on time. There are transporters who ensure that the multi-million dollars prototype cars get to the next race track in one piece. There are caterers who ensure that the whole team is well fed with nutritious meals to maintain their peak performance. There are mechanics, composite fabricators, telemetry engineers, engine specialists, tire engineers, and fuel engineers who keep the R10’s in ready-to-race condition...

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    Earlier this morning during the practice session, Team-two telemetry engineer noticed that car two was losing oil pressure. It was not an alarming situation, but he informed the car-two crew chief. After a brief deliberation, the crew chief radioed Rockenfeller to bring the car in on the next lap. He also asked Rockenfeller to set his engine map program to safe mode. The safe mode lowers the rev limiter, shifts gear at lower RPM, and set many other engine program nuances to minimize the risk of low oil pressure. The crew chief instructed the team to prepare for tire change and refuel so they could skip the next scheduled pit stop. Without wasting any seconds, as soon as the R10 came to complete stop before the lollipop man, seven team members jumped over the concrete barrier. Four of them carried four new tires to the four corners of the car and then they waited. One examined the car front end. Another person examined the car rear end. The fuel engineer plugged the large diameter fuel hose onto the R10. The fuel cap locking mechanism and the diameter of the fuel line are optimized to deliver as much fuel per second safely into the fuel tank. The fire man was on stand by nearby. LeMans regulations require refueling to be completed before any other service can be performed on the car. Additionally, only 4 engineers are permitted to work concurrently on the car at any given instance. So, all of the tasks had to be staggered in such a way so the team would not get penalized by the eagle-eye pit judges...

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    The afternoon sun is beaming radiantly between the passing clouds. The pit is buzzing with activities. Spare tires, carbon fiber body shells, and Shells oil and fuel are being placed at strategic locations around the Audi pit for easy and fast access to minimize pit time. The telemetry team is ensuring the wireless connection to the cars. More than a dozen flat screen monitors are featuring camera feeds and telemetry data dashboards. Each team is having a quick huddle to go over one last time the strategy they worked out last night to service the cars during the four hour race. The crew chiefs are going over the pit strategy the way the Captain of the Space Shuttle Endeavour is going through the final liftoff checklist with the ground command control and his shuttle crews. The number of planned pit stops, the tasks for each pit stop, refueling schedules, tire change schedules, driver schedules, and many other details are being mentally rehearsed by the team members.Capello, McNish, Rockenfeller, Werner, and Dr Wolfgang Ullrich, the president of Audi AG Motorsport, are having causal and relaxing conversation with the pit crews. It is just another day at the pit for them. They have done this a thousand times and they are still enjoying every moment. Despite the late night preparation activities, they all look calm and confident. Every single person in the team does his function in a clock work manner. They work together in the manner of Swiss watch precision...

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    The team doesn’t exert any energy on worrying whether they will win on each race or whether the Porsche team completes the pit stop sooner than they do. Their minds are focus on the tasks at hand. They enjoy what they do and they do their best. They give their passion, love, and dedication to each other and the cars at every single second of the race. Getting the first position is definitely satisfying but they do this not because of the glamour of winning but because they just love what they do. And this how they win the races...

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    After the last party light goes out and just before midnight, the team goes back to the portable shop. They go there not to continue the celebration. Instead, led by Rick and Jerome, the transportation logisticians, they meticulously organize the cars, the tools, and the spare parts such that, tomorrow, when they come back early, they can quickly prepare the cars for transport and they can pack their portable shop and pit in the similar way the Transformer Optimus Prime transforms itself back into an 18-wheeler truck. While the truck drivers are transporting the cars, the shops, and the kitchen to the next raceway, the race drivers, the mechanics, the engineers, the technical leads, the management team, the caterers have just a few days off to relax and spend time with their families before they go back to do what they love...

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