Keeping cool in the heat of the battle.
7th October 2016
As the G-Drive Racing team took a 3rd place podium in the sixth round of the FIA World Endurance Championship at the Circuit of the Americas in Austin, Texas, the searing heat and humidity proved to be a challenge to both man and machine during the six hour race.
Ahead of and during the race weekend, the Jota and G-Drive Racing team worked closely with Medicine in Motion, an Austin based Sports Medicine and Physical Rehabilitation centre, to prepare both the drivers and the team for the grueling event ahead.
Medicine in Motion is run by Dr Martha Pyron, who, along with her team of specialists, looked at every aspect of the race weekend.
Looking back, Dr Pyron provides an overview of the Medicine in Motion detailed approach, and how her team were able to help G-Drive Racing maximise every element of the team.
“Ahead of the 6HCota weekend, we assessed the team’s risk of injury prior to the race. The Jota and G-Drive Racing team come from a cooler environment, so we were really concerned about heat tolerance given the temperatures at The Circuit of the Americas, their clothing needed, and obviously the environment in the car for what is an endurance event.
One of the primary aspects was to educate all of the team, not just the drivers, about the importance of hydration and staying cool before, during and after the race.
To do this we brought in IV’s, water, and electrolyte drinks. Initially we pushed these on the guys, possibly because they didn’t understand the need, but by the second day, they were coming to us to get it!
Physical exertion in hot and humid conditions can cause issues, even to the fittest. As a result, we treated the team for a range of issues, including muscle cramps, muscle strains, belly pain, heat illness, and dehydration.
A significant way of combating heat stress is to use an ice-bath, which we provided for Roman, Rene and Alex. Although none of them were used to this, all three immediately saw the benefits, as temperatures reached 93 degrees with 86% humidity. The G-Drive racing pit crew also used the ice-baths to their benefits.
To help the team maximise every performance aspect, Roman, Rene and Alex, and a number of the pit crew all received daily physical therapy treatments throughout the event from the initial Thursday.
We also provided manual therapy and self-care instruction for the team members who had injuries so they knew what to do after they left Austin.
“The heat was something else out there though. I prepared for Mexico thinking it would hot, but Texas was on another level. The conditions were just brutal and my race boots felt like they were melting out there!
As drivers we work hard, but kudos has to go the rest of the team, in particular the mechanics on a day like that. Sometimes you have to just take a step back and admire the work they put in to get us through a full race of stops in such conditions – there really is no let up for them.”
Dr Pyron also recognised the positive experiences with the G-Drive Racing and Jota Sport teams themselves.
“The G-Drive Racing team manager Gary Holland was very receptive to our medical suggestions and did a great job getting the info to the team and the team themselves were also open to new ideas such as the ice bath and electrolyte drinks.
Although it was a new approach in terms of the provision of on-going medical care for many, the entire team very appreciative and easy to work with. Such is their professional approach, that questions were asked, to enable the team to learn how to better manage themselves in a hot environment to avoid fatigue and heat, including how preparation prevents problems, allowing 100% concentration on track and in the pit lane.
It was also new environment for Medicine in Motion too, and it was an incredible experience for our team. The entire race weekend team work very hard and to keep them able to do their jobs more comfortably was very rewarding (of course same for the drivers).
Sam Hignett, Director of Jota Sport commented:
“For us Europeans the heat in Austin was relentless and we saw several other drivers and teams falter over the course of the weekend. We can’t thank Medicine in Motion enough for all their hard work, it really made a difference”
Watch a look back at qualifying: