After detailing the relationship between driver and race engineer in our previous behind the scenes feature, this time we’re looking at another one of the crucial roles in a team: the race mechanic.
The job of race mechanic is all encompassing and incredibly important, as they do all the preparation on the car that the drivers ultimately take out on track. This means having a positive relationship between a mechanic and driver is key, as Blake Angliss shares with his mechanic at Century Motorsport, Richard ‘Rich’ Coppock.
Blake explains: “Rich is a very important person in my racing. He’s my first point of contact in the team, he’s the person responsible for the car I’m driving on the track, he’s the last person I see before going out for a session and the first person I see when I get back.
“Fortunately me and Rich hit it off from the moment I joined the team and we’ve got a really positive and open relationship. He’s always on hand to talk to about the car, feeding the information to my race engineer Nathan, and I know he always puts in the hard work to make sure the car is ready to go.”
Rich continues: “It’s great working with Blake. He’s a talented driver, and has grown massively in his confidence and speed over the past 18 months since joining us. For me, he’s a nice driver to have as he holds his hands up when it’s him that’s the issue, rather than many drivers who just come in and always blame the car.
Therefore, when he says to me that there’s an issue with the car, I know I’m not being sent on a wild goose chase to find something. If you have a driver you have a good bond with, like I do with Blake, you have that extra commitment to get stuck in and do the job.”
Rich has worked in motorsport for eight years, predominantly in Ginetta paddocks, with Blake feeling that the combination of his experience, attention to detail and dedication makes him a great person for a very important job.
“Ultimately, you put your life in their hands, going out on track at over 120mph in a car they’ve prepared,” he explains. “I’ve got immense trust in Rich, as he knows these cars inside and out, back to front, and never leaves a stone unturned with preparation.
“If I ask him to look at something he will, even if he knows there’s nothing wrong with it, and that gives me a lot of confidence in the car beneath me. It’s that level of commitment that I particularly enjoy about working with him.”
That positive relationship means that there’s a real camaraderie between the two across the race events. While it’s Angliss who gets the glory on track and receives the trophies and champagne on the podium, everyone in the team gets to enjoy the success.
Rich said: “I want to make the sure the car is as good as it can be for Blake, and for me too, so that if he goes out and wins, I can feel like it’s a win for me as well. There’s personal pride there; we’ve put so much time and effort in, back at the workshop preparing the cars and then on the race weekend, that it feels like a win for us all.”
Unfortunately if there’s one thing you can guarantee in motorsport is that at some point, it will all go wrong. As Blake described, “there’s no worse feeling that bringing a damaged car back to the team”, however for Rich, it’s a chance to show what he and his colleagues can really do.
He describes: “Let’s be clear, you never want to see a driver crash and a damaged car. It happens though and it can lead to long days and late nights to repair it, but it gives you a real sense of an adrenaline rush when you’ve got a smashed up car and a deadline to get it fixed by.
“Everyone jumps in together, the team clicks into place and you pull off a great repair job. It’s one of my favourite parts of the job, that feeling of satisfaction at a big task being done successfully against the odds.”
Blake concludes: “It’s hard to explain just how grateful you are in that moment, when you’ve kept them up until the early hours of the morning to fix your mistake, so you at least keep them stocked up on beers and treats along the way. It’s that time you really find out just how amazing the team is around you, and luckily with Rich and Century Motorsport, I’ve got one of the best.”
Angliss continues his Millers Oils Ginetta GT4 SuperCup season next weekend at Thruxton in Hampshire (27/28 August), with his focus firmly on adding to his three class wins and nine podium finishes so far this season.