The Making of Motorsports Moments

Speed and perfection are what counts for the FIA World Endurance Championship both on and off the race track. The logistics is no exception. To find out what it takes to make the moment happen, we interviewed Christina Splettstoesser, who is responsible for the logistics race behind the race.

“It’s always a special moment for me, when the cars are on time and in place on the grid and that everything worked according to plan,” says Christina Splettstoesser, General Manager at DHL Motorsport Logistics & Events, which is part of DHL Global Forwarding. Splettstoesser leads DHL’s logistics operation for the FIA World Endurance Championship (WEC) and says getting to the grid for each of the five overseas rounds is much easier said than done.

It’s always a special moment for me, when the cars are on time and in place on the grid and that everything worked according to plan.

“The constant changes to the plan as well as keeping everything under control are the biggest challenges for me and my team,” she says.

Logistics challenge
The facts speak for themselves. In 2015, this massive worldwide logistics operation included more than 1,500 tons of airfreight, 250 TEUs of ocean freight, over 158,000 liters of fuel transported by ocean freight, 6,700 tires by both air and sea, and more than 150 express and ad hoc shipments. Some 400 tons were in transit for each of the four overseas races, and with the addition of one overseas race in 2016 – 6 Hours of Mexico in September – the numbers are only going to go up. 

DHL’s partnership with WEC provides a great showcase for our professional logistics capabilities, with DHL delivering a broad range of services to the Championship organizers and teams – one that reflects what we do for ‘normal’ customers. 

Similar to our exclusive partnerships with Formula 1®, Formula E and the World Touring Car Championship, we are the Official Logistics Partner of the World Endurance Championship – and we’ve been in that role since shortly after the global racing series was founded in 2012. In fact, DHL organized the logistics of the five overseas races in 2012, a highly successful operation that led to DHL being named the Official Logistics Partner in 2013.

The most challenging item on our packing list are the untested lithium-ion batteries as there are massive restrictions and we have to involve all civil aviation authorities.

So what exactly do we do for WEC? For starters, we are responsible for all the overseas transport and logistics requirements of the championship, which includes organization, booking and customs clearance of the ocean, air, air charter and ground freight. We also run calculations and prepare load plans, coordinate on-site handling, provide packing materials, handle ad-hoc shipments, assist with loading and unloading, not to mention checking, double-checking and triple-checking all the documentation! It’s painstaking work that requires a level of meticulousness second only to perfectionism.

“The devil is really in the details,” says Splettstoesser. “We have to make sure that all the i’s are dotted and the t’s crossed.”

This year about 500 tons of freight are travelling to each overseas race – everything from the 33 prototype racing cars and 3 safety cars to spare parts, tires, fuel, TV equipment, time control and related equipment. It’s a wide variety with very diverse shipping requirements, so the DHL motorsports crew not only coordinates with WEC’s organization team, it also works closely with the racing teams, car manufacturers, other suppliers and customs agencies to make sure they know every detail about the cargo.

“The most challenging item on our packing list are the untested lithium-ion batteries as there are massive restrictions and we have to involve all civil aviation authorities,” says Splettstoesser.

Cutting edge
The FIA World Endurance Championship is one of the most technologically advanced sports in the world where cutting edge technology, efficiency and absolute reliability are vital to success. From six to 24 hours, two to three drivers relay a mix of the fastest prototype cars and the best GT cars on the planet. After four seasons of incredible competition and growth, WEC has matured and established itself as one of the world’s most revered and respected motorsports series. It has attracted the likes of Aston Martin, Audi, Ferrari, Ford, Porsche and Toyota and some of the finest drivers anywhere in the sport. Spectators enjoy the privilege of watching some of the highest level endurance racing of all time. Add to this the many private teams battling it out across the classes, plus evocative and storied locations like Silverstone, Spa-Francorchamps, Nürburgring, Autodromo Hermanos Rodriguez and of course the legendary 24 Hours of Le Mans, and the recipe is there for a championship enjoying huge popularity.

There is extraordinary team spirit at the racetrack.

WEC is now among the most attractive motorsports series worldwide with an estimated 133+ million fans. Some 600,000 spectators filled the grandstands in 2015, with another 120 million watching from home. The sport has over 600,000 Facebook fans and over 315,000 Twitter followers. The official FIA WEC app has been downloaded 500,000 times. And the trend points upward on all counts.

Well-oiled and high-spirited
Now in our fifth season with WEC, the partnership runs like a well-oiled machine. The processes are carefully orchestrated and the teams are always looking to fine tune the operation – anything to stay ahead of the clock. And it doesn’t hurt that all the logistics professionals involved love motorsports and the exciting atmosphere at each race track. 

“We have a wonderful team and I highly appreciate knowing that I can always rely on my colleagues,” says Splettstoesser. “It’s amazing to see what can be achieved if you’re really working as one team.”

“There is extraordinary team spirit at the racetrack,” she adds. “We really feel a part of something special. It makes our very time-intensive jobs worth it.”

Talking with Splettstoesser, you can really tell she loves her job. 

“Meeting and working with so many different people coming from different countries is fantastic,” she says. “The paddock is always a very special but amazing place. You really feel the diverse culture – it’s fascinating!”

“Even though we are ‘only’ there as service provider, we receive a lot of respect and appreciation from our customers and the teams. We feel part of a big family. WEC really lives the so-called ‘Le Mans Spirit’ – which means they all fight each other out on the track but back in the paddock they help each other. I think it’s unique in motorsports and I love it!”

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