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Pit Stop.

The pit stop procedure in the IWSC.

A pit stop usually lasts less than three seconds in the DTM. BMW Team RLL may be able to take a little bit longer in the IMSA WeatherTech SportsCar Championship (IWSC), but everything must be done with precision and quickly in the 36 seconds in which the BMW M6 GTLM usually spends in the pit lane. While 12 mechanics lend a hand to service the car in the DTM, there are only three in the IWSC. The perfect IWSC pit stop from fascinating perspectives.

1 // Dirk Werner, driver
"When our chief strategist Jay O'Connell radios to say 'Pit this lap', I head into the pit lane with my BMW M6 GTLM. At the entrance of the pit lane, I hit the speed limitation device on the steering wheel since the speed limit here is 80 km/h. If I drive too fast, I will receive a penalty and I don't want to risk that. I keep a lookout for Jim Volini, who uses a lollipop - a round sign on the end of a long pole - to mark the exact spot at which I need to stop the front of the car. And after that I have to stay focussed. As soon as I am back on the ground, I start the engine, release the clutch and drive off in first gear and with the limiter pressed. I don't go at full throttle again until the end of the pit lane."

2 // Jimmy, Fahrzeugchef, front wheel change
"We are under enormous pressure during a pit stop. We know how much depends on us, and that every second counts. But we have to remain focussed and can't make any mistakes. You need nerves of steel. Before Dirk is told to stop via radio, the entire crew is at the pit wall and ready to spring into action. As soon as the car is there, everyone jumps over the wall and I run into position. The outside wheels are changed first. I use the impact wrench to remove the wheel nut and take off the used tyre. Marty picks it up. Then I fit the new tyre. Now I sprint to the front left wheel to change that one. Then I make sure that the rear tyres have also been changed. In the second that Mike removes the hose from the tank, I give Dirk the signal to drive off."

3 // Mike, refuelling
"When the car turns into the pit lane, I am already sitting on the wall holding onto the fuel hose and the valve. I have already vented the system. If there is any air in the hose, the fuel isn't pumped into the tank at the right pressure and the stop takes longer than planned. How much fuel we put in depends on the race. On average it is about 100 litres of fuel. You never know exactly how the car is going to come in. However, the drivers usually stop in exactly the right spot, which is very important for me since I am moving around with the heavy can and need to find the tank opening exactly. When the car is in front of me, I push the valve onto the tank. Refuelling is what takes the most time during the pit stop. So as soon as I remove the hose from the tank, the car can return to the track."


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4 // Chris, rear wheel change
"What Jimmy does at the front of the car, I do at the back. Our work is almost synchronised. It's like being a 100-metre sprinter, you are focussed, then set off at a phenomenal speed and change the wheel as quickly as possible. When I'm finished, I signal to Jimmy so that he knows that all wheels are properly attached. We are a well-oiled team, and know the processes like the back of our hand. The pit stop practice is a crucial part of preparations for a race weekend. We practise pit stops whenever we have time - either at home in the team garage in Ohio, or at the track itself. Before it's time for a stop in the race, we have practised every movement a hundred times so that nothing goes wrong. We must do about 1000 stops in a year."

5 // Larry, safety
"My tool is the fire extinguisher since I am responsible for safety during the pit stop. When the car drives up, I remove the pin from the fire extinguisher so that it is ready to go. If anything goes wrong during refuelling, I'm there. Fortunately, nothing serious has happened yet."

6 // Marty, air gun

"I am the air gun man. When the car stops, I put the air gun in the designated device on the car. This triggers the pneumatic pumping equipment. The system is filled with air and four hydraulic pistons, which are affixed behind the wheels, spring out from the underbody. This makes the car virtually lift itself. When the tyres have been changed and the tank is full, I remove the gun. The air suddenly escapes from the system, the car comes down and the driver can accelerate."

7 // Uwe, race engineer
“I keep the crew up to date with how much longer the refuelling will take. This helps our fuel man Mike to make sure he is ready to remove the valve. During the stop I also keep my eye on the car data and let Jay O’Connell know the remaining time required for fuelling. He then informs the mechanics and drivers by radio. The 36 seconds, which is how long a stop generally takes, unfolds like a film before my eyes.”

8 // Dave, wheel change

"During the pit stop I stand behind the wall and support Jimmy and Chris with the tyre change. My task is to have the new wheels ready and pass them to the guys as soon as they are needed. After a stop I look at the pit lane exit to see whether we have made up a place of not - naturally that is the motivation to pull off a perfect stop every time."

9 // Rob refuelling
"Before Mike can start refuelling, I open the safety valve at the bottom of the tank so that the fuel can pump through the hose with pressure. If there is a problem during refuelling, I close the valve again – and the fuel flow stops. Is there a perfect stop? No, you can always improve something.