Spoiler alert. As well as our fine selection of pictures from the Dubai 24Hr, we’ll also have a video very soon on crankandpiston commemorating the event. Be sure to keep your eyes peeled for that.
As a teaser, we thought you might like to see some of the other footage we shot during the event. Timing is critical during any race – even those lasting an entire day – and the driver change is a crucial link in the chain. Time wasted here can mean the difference between victory and defeat. We caught up with Khaled Al Qubaisi, driver of this year’s winning #3 Team Abu Dhabi Black Falcons Mercedes SLS AMG, to talk us through the process.
“The difference is made in the pit stops, with the top teams especially. This is where they will gain or lose time. We pit just before we run out of fuel. JUST before we run out of fuel! The driver getting in always opens the door. It saves time, because getting out takes about three, four seconds. Then the other driver gets in. Fastening your belts can be difficult when you’re wearing your gloves, but the driver who’s just got out helps with this. And always remember to connect your water bottle properly. You don’t want to lose that!
“While we’re doing this, the mechanics will change the tyres and do anything on the car that they need to: repairs, unblocking air intakes, things like that. But at the Autodrome, we don’t fuel up at the pit garages. There’s a refueling area at the end of the pitlane, so we go down there, park up and it takes about two minutes to fill the car.
“This puts more stress on the drivers to make sure they do the changeover quickly. If the refueling was at the box, we’d have at least a minute to get in. But with the refueling done there, the time you waste over here will cost the team. You really need to do the change quickly, as quick as the tyre change if possible. The tyre change can be done in fifteen seconds. Anything over that and you’re just wasting time.
“It’s down to practice. Practice, practice, practice. Don’t make mistakes, make sure you’re comfortable with the procedure, and it could win you the race.”