The vehicles left Germany really early - at the cost of half a day of the German Rally. Everything was on its way by mid-day on Sunday and it didn't get to Finland, Helsinki until Tuesday morning and up to the service park until mid-afternoon. Again it put a lot of pressure on people. It takes three-days to set-up the service park. We had to do in a day and a half, what we normally do in three. So the pressure there and the advanced planning, if the boat had been a little bit late, it could have cost us a lot in time and work. Unfortunately those dates were set and we as co-ordinators' of the manufacturer teams, had to work within those dates and try to make the best of it. We worked together in many ways, whenever we could, helping each other, for the sake of the championship. Logistically it does take a lot.
You look at the ones that work, Spain to Corsica and Corsica to Spain. That works because they are close and you can get from one to another over night basically - or one-day maximum. Then next year we have got Sweden to Norway that will work, because it is half-a-days drive. So we could leave in the early hours of Monday morning and be in Norway by Monday afternoon, which will be a normal arrival time. Some of the back-to-backs you have got to look at and say: 'hold on, come on, this is a bit too close'.
Was it a case then when you got to Finland and got it all set-up, it was a big sigh of relief?
It was a sigh of relief - it was a sigh of relief to see everything arrive. Unfortunately one of our vehicles had a puncture coming up from Helsinki and by the time that was sorted, it set us back by 3 or 4 hours. So, we were delayed there, but at 5 O'clock it arrived and the boys worked almost through the night to get everything set-up.
I was also relieved when I had a phone call to say everything had got from Germany to travel on Monday - and all the stuff was actually on the boat. I always had this fear, you are trying to get a 130 vehicles onto a boat, in our case we had over 17 vehicles going onto the boat and at some point they might say: 'No that is the maximum, we are going to close the doors and sail', because this was just a normal scheduled boat. It wasn't a designated one for us. It was a relief to get a call at 4-o'clock on Monday morning from our agency, to say: 'Yes all your vehicles are on and she is sailing'. That was a start and we were on our way. The weather was good and she got to Helsinki on time.
So, that was a relief when the boat was on the way and there was relief as well when we all got to Paviljonki [service] and set to work. But it was at a cost to both events, they both suffered a little bit because of it - leaving Germany early and arriving in Finland a little bit late. So, a lesson learnt there.
It seems pretty seat-of-the-pants sort of stuff?
It was - and that was one of the close ones we can do without. All the planning worked and it all fitted into place, but a lot of the time you had crossed fingers that it would work. It took some planning and it came out fine. But again I would like to see any other back-to-backs in the future have a little bit more margin for error or not so big a distance to travel between them.
Surely with everybody packing up early in Germany, it couldn't have had a very good impact on that event?
It didn't. I feel sorry for the organisers of the Rallye Deutschland. They did very well this year and the Germany organisers are improving year by year, as is the event. To see spectators this year arriving in the service park on the Sunday, all we did was a ten minute service at 8-o'clock and then it was a quick pack up - we only had twelve hours to get on the road. It was so upsetting in a way, being as involved as I am, seeing people arriving at 9-10 in the morning to see action and they had bought tickets and everything and all they saw was the service park coming down as quickly as possible. People come to watch mostly on Saturday's and Sunday's, because they can't get the time off on Friday and they lost a day's viewing. The event was finished by 12. So that was upsetting to see people wandering in and looking at that point at 50 per cent of the service park down and by 12 it all down. You saw hundreds of people standing there and saying: 'What's happened?' The German organisers weren't too happy about that either, but that's the way it had to happen to have those two back-to-back. But as I say in future, with having a twelve hour drive, a 20-hour ferry crossing and another 6-hour drive, that is too much.
Can you give us some stats that reveal how big a logistical challenge the WRC is?
Well in our case, on a two-car event and generally on European events, we have about seven trucks, four recce cars and four management cars – we have to get those around. On European events we drive to every event.
Generally including drivers', we have about 45-47 personnel on a two-car event and about 55 on a three-car event and probably 60-63 on an asphalt event, where we have safety crews and weather crews, they come into their own on those.
So, the statistics of moving people about is quite demanding in that a lot of them are family people - and you tend to have mechanics, team personnel, who work two events on and then one event off. So, over the 16 event championship they will only do 10. In fairness if they did do the whole championship, they would be away for possibly 160-170 days a year, which is too much. You have to juggle that around and while they are back in Banbury they are preparing the next events cars. So that is the statistics of getting all them around on the European events.