TOYOTA Motorsport GmbH asked within the company for addictional personell supporting the race team at Le Mans. We spoke to three volunteers with different tasks and started with Jason. Let's see how his experience have been during the busiest race of the year.
Let’s start from the beginning, what are you doing exactly here?
- I’m the trucky support but the title doesn’t really do justice, because it’s much more than driving the trucks. The truckies are responsible for the tyres, which means they control the tyre pressure, heat the tyres and get them prepared for the sessions, whether it’s dry or wet. They sometimes have to react really quickly depending on the situation.
That sounds really stressful, is it much more stressful than you expected?
- Actually as my day-to-day job is mainly on the desk - I’m a design engineer and designed the steering wheel for this project - for me it’s a completely different experience. It was really great to be part of the team for such a big and legendary event. I’m working in motorsport now for 15 years but I had very rarely the chance to go to the track and actually work there. So it’s great to see how it works from that side, even though it’s really exhausting.
Tell me how was your first session in Le Mans as a trucky support?
- Actually pretty good. I’ve learned a lot straight away, because the guys have some special techniques and different processes to cope with the tyres during the sessions. I’m happy to work with the guys. Christian, who is responsible for the tyres has got a good system to cope with them and he is always very calm; it’s easy to follow his instructions.
How did it come that you volunteered?
- TMG sent out an email asking for additional personnel to help out in Le Mans as it’s such a big and busy event. It’s the first year that I’ve applied for it; I wanted at least once experience of being part of the team. There were different positions which you could do, security, hostess, trucky support and I just said if I could choose, I would choose the trucky support. I think it’s a brilliant idea from TMG. I was nine years in the F1 team and I went only to one test as design support. Giving people the opportunity to come to Le Mans and being part of the team is really unique, especially the way I did it, where it has nothing to do with my actual job at TMG
Why did you want to do the trucky support especially?
- It was because of the feedback from the other guys. I decided to go there and be part of the team so in the end I really wanted to feel as part of the team; being completely exhausted and getting dirty and so on. If I have the choice I prefer to be in the action.
Now Le Mans is over and some time passed, what are your impressions now?
- It was quite good to have some time off afterwards - I took a week off straight after Le Mans - because I could really take my time to think about everything which happened. It was just a fantastic experience and I can completely recommend it. If anybody is thinking to do it next year in that position I would definitely say go for it. You need to be cautious because it’s really a lot of hard work but for me it was just great as those guys really work as a team and it’s something that I haven’t experienced for a long time in such intensity. In the office environment you for sure try to work as a team, but you’re not really in the thick of the action or in a high pressure situation whereas all those guys are really focused, they all have a job to do, they know what they’re doing. So just to be within their little environment doing that was fantastic.
Do you have another point of view of your own job after that experience? You designed the steering wheel, does it feel different now after having seen the car in this special environment?
- It’s always nice as a designer when you get to see the parts you’ve worked on because unless you follow them up, you could be designing parts all the time, release them and then not really see them. So it’s your own responsibility to go to the car and get your hands on these parts. Especially when the parts go on to the next level, when they’re tested and used then it’s completely different. It’s like a chain in the end. You as a designer are just one part of the chain and then it finishes when the car is been raced or rallied.
Do you feel a bit more motivated now after seeing the car on the track and seeing how the people work with it?
- I feel much more motivated for that project. It’s not my main project at the moment but after experiencing Le Mans I would wish so. It’s because of the whole experience but it’s also because I could see how much we really need and can improve.
Which means you could immediately go in your office and work on improvements?
- Yes, there are definitely areas where you can look on. It’s good to see the car at first hand at the race track and to see what happens with the bodywork for example. You cannot change something immediately at the race track but you have a much better view when you see the car running live. It’s closing the loop; it starts in our office with having the idea, then doing the concept, starting to design it, releasing the parts afterwards, they’re being manufactured and fitted to the car and then tested and raced. When you have the chance to see the parts again at the end of the loop and having a look during the car is in action is really beneficial.