Every piece has got its own place – the multifunctional team trucks
“One, two, three and move it!” One team member issues the instructions for the others, and a second one controls the steering wheel. When it comes to loading the most valuable part of the cargo, maximum attention is a must. Carefully, Mike Rockenfeller’s Audi RS 5 DTM is pushed into the enormous team truck, and then it is secured and is ready for the transport. But the driver’s one-million-Euro racer isn’t the only thing that disappears in the cargo bay, following a DTM race meeting. Actually, the car occupies just a fraction of the cargo bay’s total space. “We are travelling to the DTM races with three trucks,” reveals Phoenix Team Manager Dirk Theimann. “Each of the trucks is custom-built and tailor-made for our needs.” Loading these trucks is a special art and the entire team is involved in the procedure – and for the more experienced team members, this art also has become a routine.
Of course, the trucks themselves also are very valuable. Depending on what they are used for. At Phoenix, two of the three lorries are pure cargo trucks, with the third also being used as meeting room and dressing room. Up to 12 persons can confer in the truck at the same time. “The costs vary – dependent on the requirements – a lot,” says Theimann. “The typical, smaller trucks cost between €200,000 and €500,000 while you have to pay more than a million for the really big ones.” And if you add the value of the content, each team is travelling with a total cargo of several million Euros, on the DTM weekends. Therefore, accidents or other incidents would result in dramatic consequences. So, to avoid the worst case, the two racing cars never are fed in the same truck. Theimann: “This also has got insurance reasons. Should something go wrong – what fortunately hasn’t been the case in our team, so far – only one and not both our cars will be destroyed.” To date, all the three Phoenix trucks always made it to the respective race venue unharmed. Usually they arrive at the circuits on Wednesday afternoon and the team starts working right away.
A chief storekeeper usually isn’t on site. If it can be used at all, this term most likely applies to the three drivers of the trucks. Each of them is responsible for his truck and two of them also are in charge of the tyre management. Theimann: “They cooperate with Hankook and execute the entire handling: tyre fitting, tyre heaters, air pressure etc.” Meanwhile, the third driver is the Lord of the spare parts. But the three truckers aren’t the only ones who know exactly where each piece is placed. In the run-up to the season, storage plans are created by dint of a computer and, so, every piece is allocated a place where it will be kept throughout the season. “For creating the plans we mainly rely on our experienced gathered in the previous years,” says Theimann. “And when these plans have been completed, this actually is more than half the battle. On the race weekends, things consequently usually run like clockwork. The major part of everything we need is stored in roll containers. And 40 to 50 of these roll containers can be stowed in a truck.” In addition to the DTM cars, the trucks take other vehicles to the race venues, such as scooters and quads. And when the event is over, all these things will disappear – one at a time – behind one of the countless little doors and hatches. Theimann: “This has turned into a race after the race. The squad that was the first to close the last hatch on its truck is the winner. And you usually are particularly fast if you also experienced a successful race weekend.”