The race that never sleeps

The race that never sleeps

Release Date: 04 September 2017
  • Drivers, mechanics and cars are put to the test in 24 hour endurance competitions
  • The teams drive an average of 3,500 kilometres in relays, in temperatures that can reach up to 60 °C 
  • On 18 occasions SEAT Sport has participated in races such as the 24 Hours of Barcelona Motorsport – Fermí Vélez Trophy, which is being held this weekend
Martorell, 03/09/2017.–  It is considered one of the toughest endurance events in the world of motor racing. 24 hours at the wheel, day and night, driving in sweltering heat inside the car. The teams’ concentration and mental strength are as important as the engineering and the mechanics to successfully complete the 3,500 kilometre average distance of these races. That equates to more than 700 laps in the case of the 24 Hours of Barcelona Motorsport – Fermí Vélez Trophy, which is being held this weekend at the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, where 11 Cup Racers are participating, with the technical and mechanical support by SEAT Sport. The following is an insider’s look at 24 hours of uninterrupted driving:

-3,500 km at the wheel: One of the peculiarities of these races is that the winning team is not the one that crosses the finish line first, but the one that has covered the longest distance in the duration of the event. On average, each car competing in a race of these characteristics covers an estimated distance of up to 3,500 kilometres. At a venue such as the Circuit de Barcelona-Catalunya, that’s repeating the same course more than 700 times, which requires utmost concentration in order to keep up the momentum.

-Resisting 60 degree heat: “It’s important to be physically and mentally prepared”, says SEAT driver and ambassador Laia Sanz. It’s fundamental to be able to “drive for so many hours, deal with moments of stress and cope with the 60 degree temperature reached in the interior of the vehicle”, assures Jordi Gené, a driver who has participated in numerous endurance competitions.

-Night time and daybreak, two of the most complicated periods: Drivers lower their pace at night, reducing their average speed of 150 km/h by 10%. They say it is difficult to maintain your stress level, especially when the safety car is on the track, as this slows the race down drastically and adrenaline levels at the wheel also decrease. Due to accumulated fatigue and glinting windows, dawn is another time that tests the skills of the drivers.

-Rest breaks every two hours: The teams require between two and four drivers to complete a 24 hour endurance race, and they replace each other every hour and 40 minutes. In addition, the rules are very strict, and stipulate that the replaced driver must help the next one get settled in the car while the mechanics do their job during a pit stop.

-16 pit stops and up to 40 tyres per team: Teams make 16 pit stops throughout the race. “Team coordination is essential”, Gené points out, to decrease the time spent during refuelling, driver relays or wheel changes. The drivers compete with hard tyres, and over the course of the race each team changes out their wheels a total of 40 times.

-Greater visibility and quicker refuelling: Cars participating in this kind of long distance races are especially prepared for the conditions. They require an average of 40 hours to adapt them to the demands of driving for an entire day. For example, they feature LED lights between the headlights to increase visibility at night, and the fuel nozzle is modified so refuelling can be performed without having to open the fuel tank door, which also shaves valuable seconds of time off each pit stop.

-SEAT Sport, at the 24 Hours: SEAT Sport has been present and has lent support to teams at the 18 editions of the 24 Hours of Barcelona, a long distance race that is comparable to a marathon. Eleven Cup Racers are participating in this edition, which ends today at noon.
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