More than Sponsoring – Experiences of a Partnership in the ADAC GT Masters Series
It began two years ago in a draughty trailer at the Hockenheimring racing circuit, when some IT specialists who were also keen on racing met two young professional race drivers and an ambitioned motorsports team. This encounter within two weeks led to the founding of the racing team Geyer & Weinig EDV-Unternehmensberatung // Schütz Motorsport, and to the unexpected nomination of the driver pairing Nick Tandy/Christian Engelhart for the ADAC GT Masters Series 2012.
The expectations were not all too high; the greater was the surprise when the team – in their very first year – narrowly missed the championship. Beside the intensity brought in the fight for points and wins, this success can also be attributed to a great passion in analysing the race data and jazzing up the performance of the car. From this, a real partnership between motorsports and IT originated.
Two Years of Ups and Downs in Professional Motorsports
The season 2012 started with a bang: in the second race at the debut weekend in Oschersleben, Nick Tandy and Christian Engelhart from starting position 5 made it to the podium. Passionate position fights by Nick Tandy at the beginning, and a tenacious defense of the leading position by Christian Engelhart right until the end – a spectacle as exciting as it could get for the audience at the circuit and at home in front of their TV sets. What could not be seen on television was the commitment behind the scenes: three days and two nights long the team analysed and optimised setup and performance of the car – the combination of motorsports and IT expertise was what tipped the scales.
After a lengthy lean spell GW & Schütz, with a win at the Red Bull Ring and a double at the Lausitzring, were able to achieve the lead in the standings – and very nearly won the championship too, missed only by a hair’s breadth.
The season 2013, in comparison, was so-so. At the first race, Christian Engelhart started from P2 and immediately after the start took the lead – only to be spun around by his pursuer in the very first turn. This scene became symptomatic for the entire season: a multitude of problems, due to others’ as well as the team’s own faults, characterised the following races. The only highlight was at the Sachsenring – actually no typical Porsche circuit – where the team unexpectedly came in second. This was in the first race; in the second the black-yellow Porsche came in third, but lost this position because of a time penalty.
2013 is off the table, shortly the team goes for the ADAC GT Masters series’ new season – this time true to the motto ‘make-or-break’: from now on, the field of competitors will have to keep an eye on even two yellow-black Porsche 911 GT3 R cars. The team – with its experienced staff, but under a new name: GW IT Racing // Schütz Motorsport – wants to prove again that the partnership between motorsports and IT can be a fruitful one, hopefully crowned with a success in the championship at last.
Performance and Quality – the Common Ground for Motorsports and IT
A top performance – that’s what’s the basis for wins in motorsports as well as for the functioning of complex IT infrastructures. IT quality means a high stability even under stress – on the racing circuit as well as in business-critical IT applications.
Monitoring, visualisation, analytics, and enhancement: that’s the core competence of GW IT – in the IT but also in motorsports. In large corporate networks the software INFRA-XS® by GW IT within seconds warns you whenever the IT support of critical business processes no longer is at its optimum. Much similar to motorsports, where the issues are also the missing tenths and the identification of problems on the car under a high pressure of time.
The Analytics Platform Race-XS
Even before the racing season started, both partners knew well enough that what would be a crucial factor for success was not only the capability of the drivers and a sound material base, but also the detailed knowledge of the strong and weak points in the performance of the team itself as well as of the competitors.
So, on the basis of the proprietary standard software GW-TEL® Analytics, GW IT developed the tool Race-XS, dedicated to evaluate and analyse race times and performance data. The underlying tool family’s normal field of application is the monitoring and increasement of response times of critical business processes and large IT applications. Used in motorsports, it collects telemetry and time-related data and evaluates it, thus identifying potential for performance enhancement and backing up the team’s decisions. Due to the continuous input of racing and sector times from various racing series, it is possible to gain useful insights regarding the strong and weak points the different vehicle types have on the different race courses – some valuable knowledge for the planning of the new season’s strategy.
During the racing weekends the team utilises the permanent real-time analysis of race time data, taken in training and qualifying sessions as well as during the Saturday and Sunday races, for the fine-tuning of the vehicle and also for a better assessment of the competitors. An intensive analysis of the data that takes place between races yields additional, valuable results – very useful since the team has only a small budget at its disposal and so isn’t able to perform extra vehicle tests. This disadvantage is – at least to a small amout – compensated by the IT support.
Race-XS has its strong point in the quick adjustability of analyses, evaluations, and statistical indicators on the basis of race times and vehicles’ detailed data. Together with Schütz Motorsport a set of significant key indicators and intelligent charts have been developed which highlight deviations and provide for comparisons – more and more summarised, through the entire racing series. Through a filtering of the data by separate teams or drivers, direct comparisons with competitors are possible ad hoc. Crucial, partly in-house developed, always up-to-date racing key figures are available; they can be presented in a report that comprises the complete series, for example to show the performance of a particular driver or vehicle. Based on the experience gained during the racing weekends, the platform is being continually enhanced.