TOYOTA Racing has a technical team, top-quality mechanics and engineers to set up and develop the TOYOTA HYBRID TS030. But the drivers can also call on professionals to look after some other high-precision machinery: their own bodies. Bodies that are put to the test during this most challenging of endurance races, the 24 Hours of Le Mans. Chiropractors, trainers, dietary advice – no aspect is left out by this medical team devoted to their six champions.
The team is made up of three professionals, all passionate about motorsport, who live each and every race alongside the drivers and TOYOTA Racing personnel.
First is Vincent Klingelschmitt, a very experienced chiropractor, and to some extent a pioneer of this sort of treatment in France. Chiropractors are different from osteopaths. Even if both kinds of treatment is mainly through manual manipulations, the approach and the techniques are different. The spinal column and the pelvis are the centre of the diagnostics and the therapy for chiropractors, whose studies last for six years after school, ending up with a doctorate in chiropractic care.
Vincent attends all the races and most of the test sessions between the races. During the 24 Hours of Le Mans, he is at the disposal not only of the drivers, but the rest of the team, for over a week.
” At Le Mans, I am working for the whole week. At the start, the work mainly consists of getting the drivers or mechanics and engineers who need it, back in shape. This is mainly mechanical work on their spine or pelvis, and the most important aspect is to check what the problem is. But as the week goes on, I am less likely to manipulate the driver, and rather work on making him more comfortable, helping him to recover, stretching muscles, massages. I keep a close eye on their timetable, making sure they rest and eat at specific times.
“For the race itself, my work depends on the needs of the drivers themselves, and the urgency involved. For example, for a blocked joint which will limit the driver’s performance, I will intervene mechanically in terms of chiropractic care. But most of the time the drivers do not need serious work, but just need a good massage, stretches and some recovery care, such as breathing exercises…
“Another important element during the race is hydration. In the car, the driver has a bottle with a pipette system which allows him to drink while he is driving. This is usually water, and specifically mineral water. At the end of the stint, when he leaves his car, he can either choose a sparkling water which helps muscular recovery, or various recovery products, with varying energy levels, with oligo-elements and mineral salts.
“Driver hydration depends on the outside temperature. At Le Mans, the temperature variations can be significant. If it is very hot, the driver can drink up to 1.5 litres per stint. But out of the car, hydration is also vital. There are no hard and fast rules, each driver has his own habits. Some do not like to drink when they drive – there are not many, but they do exist – while others drink a lot!
“Working with the drivers is not limited to the care I can give them. I am also rather an odd-job man. I can be a taxi driver, or head off to pick up various things they might have forgotten. It is a varied job, and one that I enjoy!”
Second of these three musketeers, Beppe Sebastiani is a trainer. A sportsman himself, he takes care of the drivers’ warm-up before they get in the car, and is not averse to making them run round the circuit when time permits. Having worked for many years in both car and bike competition, Beppe is always available for his protégés.
He is an excellent masseur, with a good feel for massage and stretches, which has earned him many fans from among the drivers. Preparing the helmets and other driver equipment, Beppe is always close by, and never tires of listening to them. A real ‘nanny’ who is attentive both to the minor hurts and feelings of ‘his’ drivers.
Luckily, his main tasks during the season are to take care of the minor issues troubling drivers and team members.
But Bruno also gives plenty of backup for Vincent and Beppe, which is needed even more during the 24 Hours of Le Mans.
This friendly trio, always available, always smiling, are a vital part of the team’s structure, every bit as much as the technical staff.