Our customer takes us through its routine
Race weekends in motorsport are known to be intense, with teams giving everything they have to produce the best car possible to win podiums and races. But the work doesn’t stop when the chequered flag falls; though the TV audiences and fans may disappear until the first session of the next event, teams are continuously working back at base to develop and improve the performance of their racing cars.
A crucial component of this is testing. To understand why it remains an important element for teams and drivers, we sat down with our i30 N TCR customer Engstler Motorsport to find out more about the meticulous preparation that goes on behind-the-scenes.
Why do teams test?
Testing is a crucial part of Engstler Motorsport’s calendar. It is vital to understanding the i30 N TCR and identifying its performance at a variety of different circuits – helping the team to maximise its potential on race weekends. Throughout the year the team conducts three kinds of tests; performance, chassis, and tyres.
“Tyre suppliers can differ between series we compete in, so it’s important we’ve dialled in to the different characteristics. Chassis test help us to identify a good set-up of the car, and we test on each of the circuits we wil compete on during the season. This is incredibly useful if we have new drivers in the team, as they can experience it outside of the simulator.”
The role of the workshop
The heart of any team’s operations, Engstler Motorsport’s home can be found in Wiggensbach, Germany. The workshop is where the team is based when it is not competing in race series around the world and where it prepares for the next event. Almost forty employees work across the company’s departments, from the mechanics, engineers, and team management to finance, logistics, PR and marketing.
“When we are in the workshop, every department has its own tasks to complete. The mechanics are busy re-assembling the cars, checking over every small detail to prepare for the next event. Our mechanics know the i30 N TCR inside-out; they are the same guys who go racing or testing. Such is our attention to detail, we are tracking every single screw. Our engineers are studying how to maximise our performance, while our logistics team arranges flights, hotels, and catering for each of our races and tests.”
Fail to prepare, prepare to fail
Much like a race weekend, teams need to be prepared for everything. Test days are often long and arduous, and anything could go wrong and derail the schedule. Though it is impossible to foresee every issue that can occur on a test, teams that have the right spare parts or equipment readily available might be able to return to the track more quickly.
“Naturally, there isn’t the same pressure at a test as there is for a race weekend. You can’t simulate everything; while we can run qualifying and race simulations, it’s a very different environment to having multiple cars on the track at the same time, improving or changing the conditions. At a race, you know you don’t have the opportunity to qualify or race again if something doesn’t go quite right, so it is a lot more intense. It is difficult to prepare for circuits we have never been to before, such as Aragon for this year’s WTCR season, but we can use our learnings from other tracks to really hit the ground running.”
Typical test day
The workshop is a flurry of activity the days before a test as the team prepares the cars, spare parts, and equipment for transport to the circuit. The trucks are loaded by the mechanics, with all team personnel then travelling to a hotel close to the track. It is often an early start the next morning, and only sometimes does the team manage to have breakfast at the hotel before they depart for the circuit.
“After we arrive, we start with a meeting to discuss the things we are testing during the day with the mechanics, engineers and drivers. Typically, we would test different pressures and the optimal operation window of the tyres, and work on set-up or issues with the car. Every track is different, so what might work well at one circuit could be completely disastrous at another, and testing affords us the chance to discover the best set-up.”
Useful team building
When you work in motorsport, you spend a lot of time together with your colleagues. Last year, Engstler Motorsport spent 23 weekends at different race circuits around the world. Thankfully, the team views everyone as an extended member of the Engstler family, and have forged a close bond.
“We have a very family-oriented team spirit, which is driven by Franz Engstler – we spend so much time together, the team is like a second family.”
Partners enhance success
Hyundai Motorsport and Engstler Motorsport work closely throughout the season. Engineers help the team extract more from the powertrain, chassis and set-up of the i30 N TCR. It’s a reciprocal relationship, with the team feeding back information to our company to help find even more gains with the car.
“A lot of hard work goes on between races to put us in the best position to showcase the winning credentials of the i30 N TCR. Every win or title is incredibly special both for us as a team and for our partners and sponsors. This would never be possible without the great support of the entire HMSG staff. And to give you another example, Liqui Moly brings two hundred guests to every round of TCR Germany, and we want to make sure the guests are entertained. We also want every one of them to leave one of our races feeling that they are part of our team, too. We have enjoyed a very long and very close relationship with Liqui Moly, and having them alongside us as all the hard work culminates in victory is truly something special.”