Our Body Shop department is usually based in Alzenau, but during Rallye Deutschland in 2014 a call was made for the team to drive two and a half hours to Trier to assist in a full repair of Thierry and Nicolas’ Hyundai i20 WRC following their roll through the vineyards during shakedown.
The miraculous turnaround that contributed to our maiden victory and spectacular 1-2 remains one of our best memories from the WRC even two years on.
Under more normal circumstances, the Body Shop team takes care of all our WRC, test and R5 cars. Each car is stripped by the WRC mechanics and pre-checked for damages. Then the Body Shop will further inspect cracks or other marks that could compromise performance or strength.
Damaged parts are then replaced or repaired by using force or tidy welding. The two-piece under body protection on every WRC car is often battered as the first line of defence between rocks and the drivetrain. These panels must be overhauled on every one of the 13 rounds of the season, even after tarmac events.
In the case of a crash, side frames or the chassis itself may require work. After big impacts, the car could even need to be measured on the repair bench to ensure its proportions remain as homologated by the FIA.
The team is also responsible for its own parts in the Workshop Store. Keeping track of and ordering parts like doors, side frames and all consumption goods ensures spares are on hand in case a car is damaged out on the stages.
No matter what the job is, everyone in the Body Shop has the skills and knowledge to get the work done. By understanding both the tools, parts and the materials they are working with, it is possible to check for problems and find adequate solutions within the time-pressured turnaround between rallies. Each day, the team holds a meeting to gain an overview of the upcoming workload and split it accordingly so that every deadline can be met.
Teamwork is important across the board, whether it’s precise welding or hefty panel beating with a mallet, to interdepartmental projects. Complex axle repair, for example, requires close cooperation with the Subassembly team.
Throughout the year, lending a hand with composite work or tailor-made parts helps to speed up the prototype process for the next year’s cars. In coordinating with Design and the Engineers, the Body Shop can provide valuable feedback for improvements as well.
Once a new chassis is approved, it is the Body Shop’s responsibility to start the builds to be used by our three crews. Each new season begins a new development and build-cycle.