Sam Bird flies into his pit box, the number 26 Ligier JS P2’s carbon-ceramics squealing as it ducks to a halt. The car jumps up onto its stands and the mechanics, shod in black and orange overalls, dart to both sides and airgun off the front wheels. Two other mechanics work frantically to tug off the car’s nose with alarming ease. And this is just Free Practice 1.
‘Sam’s complaining that the car is running too low; it’s bottoming out.’ Matt Rees, G-Drive Racing’s Dunlop engineer, has to shout over the thunder of a passing Aston Martin Vantage GTE. ‘We’ve not done enough laps to gauge what the tyres are doing yet.’
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We’re just seven minutes into Friday’s first practice session, but already the G-Drive Racing garage is buzzing with anticipation. This is the first round of the 2015 World Endurance Championship at Silverstone, and the French team is eager to get the season off to the perfect start. Last year the team narrowly lost out on taking the LMP2 championship win. No second guesses as to what result it wants in 2015.
‘We’ve not touched the tyres, so we’ll have to see how they get on now,’ Matt yells. ‘We’ll be running this same set all session.’ The number 26, now wearing its nose again, drops back onto its Dunlops and fires into life. The car clunks into first and a heavy footed Sam sends the black and orange Ligier scrabbling out of its pit box, 4.5-litre Nissan V8 bouncing into its limiter.
It’s easy to get lost in the chaotic, hurried atmosphere of an LMP2 pit garage. But shine a spotlight on each mechanic, on each engineer and surrounding team member, and you’ll notice they’re all completely focused on their own job. Dunlop’s most experienced tyre engineer, Matt, is a perfect example.