A Day at the Races with a Walkinshaw Andretti United Mechanic
The Supercars Championship races on to Hidden Valley Raceway this weekend for the Darwin Triple Crown.
This marks the sixth event of the Supercars Championship season – and Walkinshaw Andretti United, our sponsored team of the season, are all systems go as they prepare for another set of high-speed races.
Not only are the drivers preparing for another race behind the wheel, the WAU technicians are putting in the work as well to ensure that the Supercar is in top shape.
To know more about what goes on in preparing a Supercar for the races, we spoke to Karl Bankier, the no. 1 mechanic for Car 25 of Walkinshaw Andretti United.
How long have you been a Supercars mechanic?
I started in Supercars in 2015, and before that I was back home in New Zealand working on historic Formula 5000 and single-seater race cars.
How many people are there in the Walkinshaw Andretti United mechanic team?
Each car has two dedicated mechanics that work on the car full-time, a Number 1 and a Number 2 mechanic. But in total, we are allowed 11 people who contribute to the performance of the car at the track, which includes engineers and everyone else from tyre guys to the team manager.
Are there any pre-race routines or warm ups that the mechanics do before the race?
Definitely for pit stops, we always try to warm up and stretch. Each wheel is over 20kg so when you have to put that on as quickly as possible, as well as hold the rattle gun, it’s important to be nice and warmed up, that’s for sure.
What is the first thing you do when you get to the garage on race day?
First thing we do is head to the scales and do all our scrutineering checks on the car to make sure everything is within the rules and legal before track running commences.
What’s the final thing you do before letting the car go on the race track?
Final thing we do is a full visual check over on the car to make sure everything is completed, tight, and safe for Chaz when he gets in the car. Once Chaz gets in the car, I make sure his belts are done, radio is plugged in and he is ready to go.
What are the key things you’re looking out for during the race?
The main thing is to keep in contact with Macca, our team manager. He passes information on to us when the car is likely to stop, how many tyres we are changing and all other key information.
How do the different race formats affect how you prepare the car?
You want to prepare a car to be as close to perfect every time it leaves the garage that’s for sure, so we always plan like it is going to be a 1,000km race. For the longer races like Bathurst, our processes are slightly different in terms of how we service and prepare the car, but the same theory always applies.
Is there a certain Supercars track that you love the team to race on?
Bathurst is always the pinnacle of the season – it’s special for everyone involved.
What’s the first thing you check on the car after a race?
When the car gets back post race it enters Parc Ferme, which means we can’t work on the car straight away. But we can visually look for damage to see what needs to be replaced, and we are permitted to turn a fan on the brake system to cool them down.
What’s the most difficult thing about being a Supercars mechanic?
Days are long, there isn’t much time between sessions which always makes it a challenge, but also being away from family for extended periods of time, especially with two young kids can be difficult as well, even for those at home.
The other consideration is that we are always in a different location each race, so getting to know your surroundings for whatever you need across the weekend keeps things interesting.
What’s the best part about being a Supercars mechanic?
It really is a team environment, we are like a family and spend a lot of time together, so winning together, as a team, is a really cool feeling.
Be sure to support the team at Walkinshaw Andretti United and tune in to the races from 17 June, you can also follow Isuzu Australia on Instagram for highlights from the event throughout the weekend.