When the eBay Motors team arrive at Brands Hatch for the tenth and final round of the Dunlop MSA British Touring Car Championship, all the focus will be on drivers Colin Turkington, Rob Collard and Nick Foster as they seek to end their seasons on a high.
The trio will work hard with their engineers and race crews over the course of the weekend to extract the maximum performance from their BMW 125i M-Sports in the final three races of what has been an encouraging campaign for the all-new NGTC-spec car.
However, Colin, Rob, Nick and the team wouldn’t be able to do battle on track without the hard work of the truckies responsible for transporting the cars and equipment to each of the ten meetings in the BTCC season.
One of those truckies is Simon Wood, best known within the BTCC paddock as ‘Tippa’, and it is down to him to transport two of the three cars around the UK over the course of the year.
“My job is to drive R5 WSR,” he says. “It’s a purpose built, Pocklington transporter that was commissioned by us back in 1996 at a cost of £200,000. It carries two of the race cars and is fitted with its own generator and Hydrovane Air compressor.
“It also carries mechanical spares, including engines and gearboxes, a large range of consumables, custom-built mechanics tool boxes, set-up equipment and refuelling rig for the three cars.
“We also have R6 WSR, which is another Pocklington-built trailer. This one carries the third car and other support equipment, including three sets of spare bodywork and eight sets of tyres (five slick and three wet) for each car. There is also a small office and workshop with a lathe and pillar drill for emergency use!
“The two trucks are basically our ‘factory’ at the circuit and between them, we have pretty much everything that we need to run the three cars and to deal with any problems we may encounter.”
As the name suggests, driving and looking after the race truck is an important part of the truckie’s role, but as Tippa explains, it is far from the only role they carry out within the team.
“During a race weekend, the truckie is responsible for tyres and fuel,” he says. “I work on Rob’s car and we have one truckie to each car, which helps to eliminate confusion as race engineers have different tyre and fuel strategies.”
That work includes making sure that tyres are mounted and marked, that pressures are correct and that used tyres are ‘scrubbed’ after sessions to ensure they can be used again.
But what about when the racing ends and the team is ready to head back its base in Sunbury on Thames?
“After a race meeting, we strip down the garages and load the trucks back up, which takes about three hours,” Tippa explains. “On the return to base, we unload the trucks and get them washed if it has been a wet journey home. My truck is then parked in the factory.
“We restock any consumables and spares while the cars get stripped down and rebuilt ready for the next race. I sort out the tyres for the three cars and mark up six slicks per car that we will carry over to the next race, which are extra to the four sets per car we get allocated.
“I also check and polish the wheels and order fuel to be delivered to the circuit for the next race meeting. Before the next weekend, we then load the trucks up on Wednesday before travelling together on Thursday morning to the shakedown, where the team runs the cars to do all the system checks they need to carry out.
“After shakedown, we drive to the circuit and unload and wash down the truck, then the garage build starts ready from the arrival of the mechanics on Friday morning. On Friday, they then do their final prep work while we get the new tyres mounted and marked up for each car.
“Driving the trucks is the minor part of my job. Tyres are my main responsibility.”