When teams arrive at any official event or round of the FIA World Endurance Championship, it is likely that one of the first faces they will see is that of Benjamin Marchal, the FIA WEC’s Logistics and Operations Manager.
The 31-year-old Frenchman from Reims works under the guidance of Operations Director Pascal Dimitri and alongside Pierre Coiffier.
This extremely hard-working and efficient team of people is responsible for all the documentation and logistics required by teams to move themselves, their cars and equipment around the globe, the set up and placement of teams when at a track, plus installation of the championship’s branding on site.
With the final five rounds of the championship being overseas, this contact is more important than ever and, in recent months, team managers will have spent a huge amount of time corresponding with Marchal.
Visas, shipping documents, carnets, passes, order forms for team services and much more pass through Benjamin’s hands for processing en route to the USA, Japanese, Chinese, Bahraini and Brazilian races.
“When teams arrive at a track we welcome them,” Marchal said. “It’s the first contact they have. The transporters (in Europe) come into the paddock and we show them where to park or, at the flyaways, we show team personnel where their freight is, which garages they will be in, where there hospitality unit is, and any other information they might need.
“We work very closely with our transportation partner, DHL, but we are the main point of contact. We will be at the venue a few days before the teams to set up as much as possible before they get there, and it’s fair to say the days before a race are long, but you do what you have to do.
“There never seems to be enough time!”
Just a few days ago, sea freight of nearly 60 containers (each of which is 40ft and can carry over 26,000 kg of goods) left from Antwerp in Belgium for Houston. From the teams’ side, these contain the race cars, garage and pit equipment, spares and consumables, and anything else needed by teams while away from their home base.
Containers are also allocated to tire suppliers, as well as to the championship itself for scrutineering equipment, branding material such as banners, flags and signs, hospitality and office set ups, safety cars, TV equipment and much more.
The only items not transported in the main sea freight, or in the Boeing 747 air freight which will depart at the beginning of September, are the LMP1-H cars’ hybrid batteries. The regulations for carrying these are very strictly controlled and their transportation is the responsibility of the Audi, Porsche and Toyota teams.
Once in the U.S., these will then be transported to Austin by trucks ready for the teams’ arrival on Monday, Sept. 15
“Once teams are in place, I discuss the next event with team managers,” Marchal said. “Some teams were new to the FIAWEC this year so we are here to help with all the details.
“We prepare as far ahead as possible to help the teams but in racing there is always a lot of last-minute work because you don’t know what will happen at each event.
“I think we have a good working relationship with our teams and we all work hard to make sure everything is fine. If everyone’s satisfied, then I’m satisfied!”
Europe to USA
6 Hours of Circuit of The Americas – September 20
End July, Antwerp to Houston – 43 team and 15 suppliers/series containers shipped by sea
Beginning September, Frankfurt to Austin – 1 Boeing 747 air freight
September 14, Houston to Austin – sea freight transported by road to COTA
USA to Japan
6 Hours of Fuji – October 12
After being prepared for air freight transportation in the USA, everything will be sent by air in 4 Boeing 747s to Narita in Japan and then taken by road to Fuji.
Japan to China
6 Hours of Shanghai – November 2
October 13 – all containers collected by Monday night and transported by road to sea port for shipping to China on Wednesday, October 15
October 14, Narita to Pudong, Shanghai – 1 x 747
China to Bahrain
6 Hours of Bahrain – November 15
November 5-8, Pudong to Bahrain – 5 x 747s to Bahrain
Bahrain to Brazil
6 Hours of São Paulo – November 30
November 19, Bahrain to Sao Paulo – 5 x 747s to São Paulo, then by road transport to Interlagos
Brazil to Europe
Everything will be sea-freighted back to Antwerp for arrival mid-January, with 1 or 2 747s leaving a few days after the race, depending on how much freight teams wish to quickly get back to Europe.
With thanks to FIA WEC for the article