Moving a whole team’s equipment from one race to another, about 350 km, in only a couple of days requires highly organised logistics and the efforts of many people. Among these people, some drive the four trucks that transport all the equipment. We took a ride with them from the Brno circuit in Czech Republic to the Red Bull Ring in Austria; a hectic journey from Sunday afternoon to Wednesday morning.
“The first operation is to disassemble the box and get all the equipment into the crates,” says Roberto Brivio, Team Coordinator of Team Suzuki Ecstar. He’s in charge of managing the logistics aspects of the equipment. “This is the job of the mechanics, who start to disassemble the box right after they’ve safely stored the bikes. We have two trucks to hold all the crates with the equipment stored in a tailor-made allocation, as it’s vital to preserve their integrity. Also, the space on the trucks is limited, so the storage process has to be very precise.”
When the two trucks are parked in the paddock, they also carry three containers that are specially designed to host a meeting room, a spare parts room and some offices. These containers are loaded and unloaded by a special forklift – a very big one – that is operated by Davide Manfredi, also known as “Bibo.” He is very experienced in manoeuvring the forklift and for him: “It’s enjoyable because I like these big toys for big boys - but it’s also a responsibility because we are moving 5 ton containers at five to seven meters height. Plus, when it comes to loading them on the truck there is no margin for error: they have their own space which we have to match with millimetric precision, no mistakes allowed.”
The three containers and the forklift are then stored in two trailers, bringing the total number of moving trucks to four. Dario Decio usually takes care of the hospitality while the Team is at the circuit, but he jumps in one of the trucks when it’s time to move them to another location. Despite being the younger of the drivers, he often leads the convoy, so that the more experienced drivers can give him helpful advice while watching his back. “What you must keep in mind while driving such a truck,” says Dario “is that they are special vehicles and their weight is heavier than normal. In addition, they present an image of the Team while we are in the paddock, so we can’t take any risks which might damage the paintwork or the bodywork, because we wouldn’t have time to repair it once we arrive at the next circuit. Another important thing we have to consider, just like any other truck driver, is the driving time that is allowed: we can drive for a maximum of 9 hours per day, but split in two legs of 4.5 hours, with a compulsory stop of at least 45 minutes in between. Going from Brno to Spielberg takes a little more than 5 hours at our speed, so we need to have a break in the middle.”
Going from Brno to Spielberg takes a little more than 5 hours at our speed but as special vehicles they present an image of the Team while we are in the paddock, so we can’t take any risks
The time in the trucks goes pretty fast, as the four drivers are connected via radio and can chit-chat to support each other until they arrive at Spielberg. Then they take care of the very first task to be done on arrival at the location: washing the trucks. In the meanwhile, Team Coordinator Mitia Dotta and “Bibo” go to the paddock to start tracing the lines that will guide the parking of the trucks. This activity requires precision, experience and confidence. The more experienced Marco Rosa Gastaldo and Massimo Tommasoni take control of the trailers in this phase because: “The margin that we have to match the desired position is only 2 cm, otherwise the containers above would not fit their allocation”, Marco explains.
Once the trailers are set in the correct position, the containers can be placed on top and many other elements (such as the tent or the SUZUKI lighted logo) have to be fitted, including all the connection cables and wires that give the trucks light, A/C and internet. The journey and the basic setup are completed at this point, and it’s Tuesday at noon. The whole Team of mechanics and engineers arrive at the paddock the very next day for the setup of the box. This means unloading all the crates from the trucks, emptying them of materials and building up the whole box with its panels, tool boxes, electrical connections, furnishings and all the other technical machinery that is required. The entire setup process takes the whole morning, and it’s only after lunch that the mechanics can finally get to the bikes to start the maintenance and preparation work that the GSX-RR’s need for the incoming FP1 on Friday morning.
The time in the trucks goes pretty fast, as the four drivers are connected via radio and can chit-chat to support each other until they arrive at Spielberg.
From when the cameras switch off after the Sunday race to when they switch on again on Thursday, it takes the incredible effort of six hard-working people who move the trucks, plus the steadfast support of all the team members. Nobody in the team has only one task, everybody gives help and assistance in disassembling, loading, unloading and assembly again. It’s work that needs to be perfectly synched and organized to be effective and time efficient.