MG Sport and Racing's bid on Wales Rally GB last weekend had a rather special member in the support crew, F1 design engineer Gary Anderson.

Mg-xpower.com caught up with Gary when his window wiping duties were over on the Saturday and found out just what was going on. First question was what was Gary doing amidst the mud, a far cry from the F1 pitlane surely?

"It's very different to the F1 pitstops but I've been doing this with Tony for four or five years when I get time away to come down for the weekend," Gary explained. "It's good because it is completely different, it's enjoyable and it's a good sport. We're doing it obviously for some fun and it's about getting to the finish really. The car's reliable so we've got Tony driving and looking after it, Gwyndaf driving and doing a very good job and driving pretty hard and pushing. He's obviously put it in a good position so hopefully we'll get to the flag tomorrow."

So, what exactly is the man who designed numerous Jordan F1 cars, including the beautiful Jordan 191 and worked on the Stewart F1 team's only winning F1 car doing in the service area when the ZRs come into the stop?

"I'm just here to give a bit of moral support and clean the windscreen and if there's a drama I'll give them a hand. It's a good team of people here doing it so I leave them alone really to get on with their work."

In Formula One the pitstops, where tyres are changed and the cars refuelled, are an intensely critical area of the race as the car is stationary. The aim is to complete the necessary tasks in as short a time as possible, under ten seconds being the norm, unless a large quantity of fuel is being taken on board. In rallying a twenty minute service time is allocated after a number of stages have been completed. There's no point trying to get the car out of service quicker than that, as competitors get penalised for leaving the service area early as well as for leaving it late.

"Rallying's all about time discipline," explains Gary. "You've these services of twenty minutes and you've got to get the work done in that sort of time. You have to be prepared to attack anything. In the Formula One car it's a different deal, if you have a problem you're finished really to be honest, our pitstops are just normal race strategy, we can change the wheels in under three seconds, and the fuel goes into the car at a certain flow rate, so it depends how much you're putting in - you can put in about twelve litres of fuel a second - so that is just part of a race strategy."

Legend has it that Gary made his way into F1 at the Brabham team because he was big enough to lift the Ford DFV F1 engine of the time by himself. A pretty useful man to have on the crew then. "What we're doing here with the service stops is anything from just cleaning windscreens to a total rebuild," he explains, "and you have no idea until the guy comes out of the last section, so its one of those things where you have about two hours off and then twenty minutes of hell and you've got to be able to react to it."

Though Tony Jardine's MG ZR was to show the odd battle scar, and the PR guru made his trademark assault on his Sportinglife.com and Michelin backed ZR's rear bumper, the service stops ran faultlessly with the finely tuned MG Sport and Racing support crew, as assisted by Gary.

"The guys are a good team of guys and you get stuck in and get it done," Gary concluded. "It's nice to see some fun because Formula One's good but it's just a big business really, and I'm sure at the front end rallying's pretty similar, but doing it at the level we're doing it at here it still has that element of fun in it, and enjoyment."

More from Gary Anderson next week on www.mg-xpower.com.

 

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