The roaring engines, breakneck speeds, the smell of burning rubber, and the screeching sounds of the cars as they peel out onto the track. Ask any auto-racing fan what they love about the sport, and you’ll get a broad variety of answers. What’s consistent, though, is their passion for experiencing the high-intensity atmosphere at the racetrack.
But have you ever wondered what goes on behind the scenes of a professional motorsport team? The pit crews that support the drivers and maintain the slick machines that whip around the track face enormous pressure.
A racing crew’s focus is to complete a pit stop as quickly as possible to give their driver the best chance at winning a race, explains Enrico Diano, Racing Team Manager with Toronto-based R. Ferri Motorsport. It’s tense work that demands a delicate balance between safety and speed.
“With the rules this year, doing things like tire changes as quickly as possible can make or break a pit stop, and therefore the race,” he says. “Extra attention needs to be paid to the pit stops. You can gain some time because there is a minimum time you can’t go below (during a stop). The rules dictate when the car exits the pit … the key is to be as close to that minimum time as possible without going under it, and of course, you don’t want to go excessively over it.
“If you make a mistake in the pit and lose five seconds because a guy is fumbling with a wheel that isn’t going on, that five-second gap will be very difficult for a driver to get back.”
Therefore, assembling the right pit crew that can perform well together is one of the toughest jobs Diano faces.
“Not only do you need to find talented people who have the experience, but I also try to pick Canadians to join our team – ideally local people from in and around the Greater Toronto Area,” he says. “We go from a crew of three in the shop to a crew of 10 when we’re gearing up for a race … it’s a fine balance (establishing the right team). There are a lot of risks involved. These are million-dollar cars.”
The R. Ferri Motorsport team is defending its SprintX and GT Overall championships in the 2019 Blancpain GT World Challenge Series this year with its Ferrari 488 GT3. As part of that series, Diano, his crew, and veteran drivers Toni Vilander and Miguel Molina will compete in May at their home racetrack: the Canadian Tire Motorsport Park in Bowmanville. While every adrenalin-inducing competition is pressure-packed, racing on its home racetrack is a different affair for the team.
“We have a great team that is fighting to win another championship,” Molina says. “It’s always special (at Canadian Tire Motorsport Park) because a lot of fans come to watch that race, and our guys are from the area, so yes, there is a bit more pressure, but we prepare well and always expect a good result.”
Owned by Team Principal Remo Ferri, R. Ferri Motorsport was founded in 1991. It’s Remo Ferri’s passion for the sport that fuels the team and its successes to date. “Remo’s love for racing is boundless, and it’s why we’re privileged to do what we do,” Diano says.
Though every pit crew team member is dedicated to performing a specific task in concert with one other, each of R. Ferri Motorsports’ crew is a jack-of-all-trades.
“Some crews have up to 24 people, and it’s mind-boggling to watch them do what they do in two-and-a-half seconds in slow motion let alone real speed,” he adds. “We have guys on our team who are multifaceted. They can work on the car, do a pit stop and re-wire something; it helps to be able to do a bit of everything.”
Follow R. Ferri Motorsports’ pursuit of another championship in 2019 online at RFerriMotorsport.com.
By Liam Lahey
– Lahey is a freelance writer and editor. Follow him on Twitter: @LiamLahey