When you’re hurtling down the front straight at 250km/h, a crash can be forgiven…Yet in pit lane, when the speed limit drops to 40km/h, you’d think there’d be close to zero per cent chance of a crash.
Not quite… Car damage in pit lane is actually more common than you would think and we all saw that on Sunday in Pukekohe.
Shane “SVG” van Gisbergen had a massive shunt coming into pit lane when he went straight up the back of a much slower Tim Slade.
“I made a mistake coming into pitlane behind Tim, he was quite cautious, which he’s allowed to be, and I misjudged it,” SVG said at the time.
“It would’ve been fine if he wasn’t there, but he just over-slowed and I couldn’t stop in time and ran up the back of him causing a lot of damage.”
— Supercars (@supercars) November 5, 2017
It basically put him out of the race, but not completely.
Red Bull Holden Racing Team Crew Chief Kris “Gooey” Goos and his team managed to get car #97 back out on the track to claim some crucial championship points.
“Usually it’s just a little rubbing… That was one of the larger shunts we have seen in pit lane,” Gooey said.
With crashes common during the race, the pit crew are always on their toes. However, this one was totally unexpected and the team did an outstanding job to get the car back out there, within the allowed time.
“We pride ourselves on the high level of experience that our pit team has,” Gooey continued.
“It’s unfortunate that it takes something like this to show how great these guys are at what they do. It all comes down to the procedure, accelerated diagnostics skills and knowledge of the car.”
The operation by the crew was similar to a well-oiled machine and each member performed their role with absolute precision.
“Each member of the team knows in advance what is required of them,” Gooey continued.
“In this instance, there was a water leak, huge amounts of steel and composite damage. Where do you start? At this point, you just go straight back to the basics.
“The leak was not from the radiator, it was from an O-ring that had reached its limits due to the angularity of the radiator.
“We obviously didn’t have time for two new chassis rail extensions and a new rad, therefore we had to reposition the chassis rail extensions with a massive sledge hammer, being careful not to damage the radiator in the process. This in turn got the O-ring to seal again.”
“There are multiple things that can be missed at this stage, you don’t want to bring the car back in again for a second repair.
“To finish it up, it’s time for the splitter and to secure any damaged and loose panel work which is when race tape is your best friend.”
Working under pressure is a skill set the crew have and they’re ready for whatever life throws at them (literally).
“There’s a huge variety of scenarios that we are prepared for, and we like to practice these regularly to keep the team sharp.”
“When you encounter a crash at the beginning of the season, it’s quite easy to forget how important the championship points are,” he said.
“They start to become of higher importance when you get to the pointy end, and every extra point counts.
“Championships have been won and lost in pit lane.”
Yep, and that’s far from what we want when both the Drivers and Teams Championships are so close – only 30 points separate J-Dub from his rival Scott McLaughlin and we’re trailing Shell V-Power Racing by just 105 points in the Teams Championship.