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GP Week : Issue 135
Every WRC team needs someone dedicated to planning and ensuring everything is right on every day – this weekend is one of those occasions when these people are going to be very busy! Martin Holmes spoke to Mike Croft-White, the ‘Think Man’ for M-Sport. “Actually that is not my title,’ he says. ”You must call me a Performance Analyst!” ... which confirming the impression he gives. He is the man whose job it is to think about things which other people in the team are too busy to spare the time to think about! The special challenge of Germany and France, and to a lesser extent Spain, comes with the fact that the asphalt rounds of the world championship allow competitors a choice of tyres, soft compound or hard compound, and this opens up the daunting challenge of weather prediction work: “Hard tyres are of course for dry condi- tions, softer tyres are for wet or cool condi- tions. That’s straight-forward; making tyre decisions is just a matter of weather fore- casting”. Which is not straight-forward. “ The tricky part is when you have a group of stages with a variety of conditions. How to balance performance loss when running with the wrong type of tyres with the per- formance advantage when the equipment is right. We have to quantify situations so as to make informed judgements.” Mike’s job extends far beyond the vaguaries of the sky. It encompasses the consequences of those vagaries. Things like whether there will be a breeze which can accelerate the drying-out of the roads, handling the micro climates, especially prevalent in Germany where you can watch the storms as they come along the valleys. And, of course adjusting to the limits cre- ated by the rally regulations, especially as to the limited occasions when tyre choices can be made. But at the centre of the challenge is the actual weather forecasting itself. Meet M-Sport’s ‘Think Man’ him! Production Car World Champion-elect Hayden Paddon is planning to travel back from New Zealand to do this work for Ken in Rallye de France. One of the special characteristics of the event is the new involvement of two highly successful former competitors in the organisational team. The new rally manager is Dominique Serieys and the Director of Communications is Bernard Beguin (keft and right, below left). Dominique was a long time successful co-driver who partnered Bruno Saby to victory on the 1993 Paris-Dakar before becoming Mitsubishi’s rally raid team manager. He and Saby also jointly hold the record for crossing the Americas (from Cape Horn to Cape Barrow in the far north of Canada), 25,000km in 14 days. Bernard who is now head of Public Relations at the French federation, was a long time successful rally driver whose most famous achievement was winning the 1987 Tour de Corse in a BMW M3 prepared and run by Prodrive – the last time a full WRC event was won by a rear drive car. WRC PREVIEW >> 45