The angel mechanics

They are passionate, hard-working and most of the time they are on racing circuits. We have a tendency to put them in the background, but they are the guardian angels of the drivers. They are the WTCR Oscaro mechanics.

The Oscaro Repair Time, the moment for them to shine. Between the two races on Sundays, the mechanics have fifteen minutes to repair the car of their driver. 15 minutes in the spotlight. 15 minutes of glory indeed, but a slice of time that seems insufficent compared to the daily workload carried out by these passionate racing fans.

David Medrano is a mechanic for Campos Racing. Normally on John Filippi’s car, he is exceptionally assigned to the car of Pepe Oriola for the Race of Hungary. In a moment of calm, he speaks to us about the difficulties of his profession: “It is a very hard job. We do one race after the other, we do an enormous amount of work and we are far from our families“. An opinion shared by Olivia Boutsen, Team Manager of the Belgian team Boutsen Ginion: “Not everyone can work on this kind of car and keep up the pace. It is a very demanding job. The mechanics start working on the car at 7am and sometimes do not go to bed until 1am in the morning. They don’t go to sleep as long as the car isn’t ready.

Passion Changes Everything

After a hard day of racing, we meet Anthony Renardy, at the back of the DG Sport garage. He is the chief mechanic on Aurélien Comte’s car. “Not everyone can do this.” explains the 29-year old Belgian. He goes on:

"Being a racing mechanic isn't just about gaining a good salary, it is a job of passion"

The passion of racing, here is what reunited all the persons working on the WTCR Oscaro. Anthony tells us how his love for mechanics was born: “In the beginning we all dream of being a racing driver, but we realize it is a different world. They spend their savings in racing, and us, mechanics, gain it“. It’s during his teens that it clicked for him: “I have always had this passion for mechanics and beautiful cars. But i maintained and personalized on my own, my kart and my scooter. That’s how i had my first experience as a mechanic.

The history of David Medrano is slightly different. A motorsports fan since a young age, he has always wanted to repair and not drive. “What i love with my job, is to take a broken part, focus on it and take my time to get it back into a functioning state. I have always wanted to do this job, and i made it“.

What way to go?

To get to his objective, the Spanish Campos Racing mechanic gave himself the means: “I first did a degree in mechanics, and then went on to do a Master’s degree in technical motorsport with Campos Racing.

However, going to university isn’t the only way to be employed by a racing team. Anthony Renardy tells us how he got here: “There was a team 5 kilometers from me. I had a high school diploma at 18 years old, i went to see them and proposed my services. It was two weeks before the 24 hours of Le Mans. They put me on a trial period and kept me afterwards. Since then i have never left this world”.

Like the DG Sport chief mechanic, they are in the hundreds wanting a spot as a mechanic in the world of motorsport. “I receive a huge amount of candidatures each week“, says Olivia Boutsen. She goes on: “A good mechanic is a rare species, it is very difficult to find. When a new mechanic joins us, we have them pass a series of tests, and then we see if it works out“.

No margin for error

Once one has passed this stage, one must prove themselves in real life. It is at this moment, that a new factor comes into play: Pressure. And sometimes, even the best lose their means. The Boutsen Ginion Team Manager tells us an anecdote:

"Last year during the Thailand round of the TCR International Series, our car had a small issue. For the first time, there was a Repair Time between the races and our Chief Mechanic couldn't do anything, he was blocked by the clock. It was panic. Finally, Olivier Lainé took things in hand, we finished the work on the grid and won the race with Aurélien Panis".

If this time it was a happy ending, one must not forget that it could be tragic: “You must always keep in in your head that even the smallest of mistakes on our end can be fatal for the driver.” reminds Anthony. To avoid catastrophe, there is only one solution for David: “You must remain concentrated whatever happens. Security always comes first. We have an enormous amount of responsibility.”

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