August 19, 2015 admin

Can the issues at Calais really effect the cars getting to and from races?

During the last few months there isn’t anyone who can say they don’t know about the migration issues at Calais, it’s regularly on the news, in the papers and on social media. In fact it’s highly likely that you have a friend who’s posted or tweeted whilst held up in queues trying to cross the channel for a holiday, and those of you who chose to stay in the UK or flew somewhere are quietly smug, deep down you are!

So, we got to thinking, this heavily effects most people with a motorsport job in one way or another, one role in particular, the truckie. For all the European Grand Prix, the UK based teams have to the get the cars from the UK to mainland Europe. The route they take is in question due to the migrant issues. But, on top of this they have a really tight timeline getting to and from races, so what’s the chances that they might not make it?

I’m no expert, but I know a man who is, so we had a chat and I discovered that it’s not just a case of being stuck in a traffic jam, which would be my biggest cause for complaint, I am not very patient in a traffic jam, who is?!
No, the journey has to be planned out fully, there is no stopping for fuel as needed, it has to be done outside of a fifty mile radius of Calais. Especially when travelling alone, the vehicle needs to be watched at all times, almost making it a compulsory two man job, you need a wing man to watch whilst you pay for fuel. Migrants often overrun the area at Calais, some lie in the road to stop the trucks, giving no choice to get past. I personally have no idea what I would do in that situation, these people are effectively risking their life lying in front of a huge transporter in order to try to find somewhere safe to live with access to a bit of a quality of life.

I know that these issues have been around a long while, I can remember migrants jumping out of the back of one of the transporters on arrival back at the factory when I worked for one of the race teams. The truckie bringing the truck back was very shocked, he had no idea there was anyone back there, let alone 5 or 6 people, they just hoped out and ran down the drive before anyone had a chance to recover from the shock and catch them.

There is a huge amount of both personal and professional pressure caused, when ‘Operation Stack’ is in progress, huge delays either side of the channel are now forcing trucks to be diverted to more expensive routes. Which are also becoming the chosen routes for the major road hauliers, so are fully booked weeks in advance.

The delay itself is a real issue personally for racing truckies, they aren’t equipped with sleeper cabins, bedding, food, water, cooking and washing facilities as a haulage truck driver would be. One driver was stuck in the delays for 27 hours, he had to sit there and try to sleep in the seat with nowhere to go and no one to talk to. I know this isn’t something I could cope with!

On top of all this is the professional issues. There is a very real chance of being unable to get the cars back for the turn around to be complete in the timeline that has been mapped out. So many races result in everything being time critical. Most teams after a European race, strip the cars when they return from ‘Parc Ferme’ and send them that night on the transporter truck, which is double manned, for twenty hours straight.

This could easily go wrong in the current circumstances, take the Hungairan Grand Prix for example, the truck makes it to Calais in one hit, it is then met by another truckie who drives it home, simple. But, he got caught in the chaos and was stuck for almost six hours. The maths… a single driver can only drive for ten hours total over a fifteen hour period, six hours has been used up, leaving four hours, this is still okay, puts the truckie under a little pressure because from the ferry it’s over three hours to their factory, but is okay. They made it, phew. However, the logic puzzle continues, time was too tight, this is not a predictable critical time analysis, the delays at Calais are an unknown entity, say there was an eight hour delay then he would only have made it to the M40. That’s okay, you have to get another driver to come and fetch the truck, manageable because it’s on the right side of the channel. However, should you be stuck on the French side then everything at the factory starts to fall apart, no truck means no cars, tools, parts, brakes, suspension, bodywork etc etc. Everyone and everything is time critical based on the arrival of that transporter truck, when it doesn’t make it, then every hour lost is another hour.

Doesn’t sound like it might be much of a problem, an hour here and there, but with the next Grand Prix looming it becomes a race against time.

Anderson Gothard, specialist in #motorsportjobs #motorsportrecruitment #motorsporttraining #motorsportapprenticeships

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