Around the world in nine races: WEC & DHL

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Every year the FIA WEC travels hundreds of thousands of kilometres, with races taking place on four separate continents. All the fans see are the cars, teams and drivers on track, but it takes a monumental effort to get everyone to the next race on time. WEC-Magazin joined up with DHL Global Forwarding and took a closer look at how the logistics of the world’s premiere endurance racing series work.

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While teams in continental series such as the European Le Mans Series and the WeatherTech United Sportscar Championship often travel from race to race in their own team trucks, the FIA WEC relies on the help of DHL as its official logistics partner. DHL transports all of the WEC’s freight to and from all of the overseas races.

The journey begins

Most of the general equipment such as tyres, fuel, pitlane equipment, tools, machinery, advertising materials and radio gear is stored in 40ft containers and transported by sea. The teams then send their own lubricants, cleaning agents and spare parts by air freight, which arrive at around the same time the shipping containers reach their destination port.

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All of the most sensitive parts are packaged up and shipped separately.

The next step is to transport the containers by truck to the race track. Soon afterwards, the cars arrive. The 33 LMP and GTE cars, three safety cars, a T car and more spare parts and pit lane equipment are sent in Boeing 747 freight aircraft. They are stacked inside the cargo hold using special car racks and secured for the journey. Once they have been given the green light by the airport authorities, the cars are also taken to the circuit.

As soon as the first free practice sessions kick off on Friday, the DHL team is already making its preparations to leave, the “outbound” journey. Loading lists are coordinated with the teams and the next race. When race day comes, the logistics specialists can relax a little and enjoy the action.

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Without the express deliveries, such as this monocoque, some teams would not be able to take part at all.

Always a challenge

You may think that practice makes perfect in such a job, but each race brings with it brand new logistical challenges for the DHL Global Forwarding team. A charter flight may be delayed and have to be unloaded at 2am, or a team may need a new monocoque from Europe that has to be in Bahrain within a matter of hours.

Transporting a world championship such as the WEC around the world is a monumental task. In 2016, 22 charter flights will be required to move some 22,000 tonnes of freight. Then there’s the 198,000 litres of fuel, 10,000 tyres and 200 express deliveries. These kinds of figures are going up every year – and the scale of the task for DHL with them. However large the championship grows, DHL Global Forwarding will be required to develop brand-new solutions to rise to the challenge.

Images © WEC-Magazin (Walter Schruff / Ton Kerdijk)