In just over a week’s time the eagerly awaited last round of the FIA GT Series in Azerbaijan’s capital city, Baku will take place. Teams and drivers will be stretching every sinew to give their best to finish off their 2013 season. But they will not be the only ones working hard to win a trophy and be crowned champions at the end of the year. Back in March before the first round of the FIA GT Series at Nogaro, SRO Motorsports Group initiated the Pit Stop Challenge to reward the quickest and most efficient mechanics.
The conditions of the 2013 Pit Stop Challenge are simple. In both the qualifying and the main race, the time spent by each car in the pits during the pit window is recorded by the official time keepers – Blancpain timing. In a similar points system used for the drivers during the main race, the car spending the less time in the pits wins 25 points, the second quickest 18, the third 15, etc. The points won during both races are added together and the car with the most points over the weekend will see its mechanics win a cheque of 2,000€. The mechanics receive their cheque on the podium in a special ceremony just before the official podium of the Main Race, ensuring the team shares the limelight as well as the drivers.
Three different crews of two mechanics each were rewarded for the five first Pit Stop challenges this season, one of the crew managing to win three times! It was François Verbist and Thomas Crohin, mechanics of the Belgian Audi Club Team WRT Audi #13 of Frank Stippler and Edward Sandström who were the quickest in Zolder (BEL), Zandvoort (NLD) and Navarra (ESP). They have now wrapped up the title and will be honored with a special trophy during the SRO Award Ceremony on Friday 29th November.
Indeed, the above ‘quick-handed’ pair were quickest in 7 of the 10 races! But at Nogaro, a problem on the car during the qualifying race prevented them from scoring points and the 25 points of the Main Race were not enough against the 30 points scored over the weekend by the mechanics of the Audi Phoenix Racing #5 of the Belgian duo Anthony Kumpen and Enzo Ide.
In Slovakia, it was the BMW Sports Trophy Team Brasil and the mechanics of the car #21 of Ricardo Zonta and Sergio Jimenez, who scored 43 points (almost the maximum) managing to beat the pace-setting mechanics of the #13 and come back to Brasil with a 2,000€ cheque to spend on a day at the beach!
For the Baku World Challenge however, it will be a bit different as the race will take place on a street circuit, meaning that the conditions mechanics and drivers are used to will be very different. Mechanics will not have the comfort they usually have in permanent pits, and drivers will not have any margin for error on the track. In addition to those conditions, of the 30 cars entering the race, eight teams are new to the FIA GT Series, and among those eight teams is Hexis Racing, who spent years building a reputation as being the best in the pit lane. No doubt they will do everything to enhance this reputation by winning the Pit Stop Challenge in Baku.