#DrivenBy: Günter Zäch
Flexibility is everything for Günter Zäch. In his capacity as truck driver and group leader in the Mercedes-AMG Motorsport DTM Team, the 49-year-old qualified electrician always has to expect the unexpected. “You have to be ready for unplanned activities and make sure they are covered,” says Günter, exhibiting evident enjoyment and passion for his work. “Firstly, it’s not the sort of job that everyone does, and secondly, it’s very interesting because you get to know a lot of people. Apart from which, it’s a great feeling when you win. That gives you a sense of personal satisfaction.”
For Günter, it is worth missing out on leisure activities such as motorcycling, which he does not have much time for in the summer. During the DTM season, he and his team of six truck drivers (all permanent employees) are on the road for around 110 days, transporting the racing cars and equipment to test sessions or the races themselves at venues all over Europe and covering a distance of around 25,000 kilometres in the process. A total of nine trucks are used, seven of which are parked in the paddock and two outside – they transport the pit wall equipment and wheel rims.
“25,000 kilometres isn’t all that much for a truck driver,” explains Günter. “The driving as such is actually only a small part of our job. The rest of the time is spent on setting up equipment, organisational tasks and the preparation of the wheels at the race track.” Each of the truck drivers supplies one car with its wheels and is therefore responsible for the tyres. “In addition, we are responsible for providing fuel at the race track.”
The longest itinerary he and his colleagues have to cover in 2017 is the four-and-a-half-day trip to Moscow. The visit to Portimao for the test week took three and a half days. “But the most spectacular journey we’ve ever made was in 1998 when we drove from Miami to San Francisco. In those days, the trucks were shipped over when we were competing in the FIA GT Championship. That was the most interesting experience of my career.”
Günter’s duties also include checking the trucks after loading and before departure: “I make sure that all spare parts are there, that the planning has been done right, and that everything arrives punctually at the race track.” Apart from the chassis and/or monocoques, the team brings along every component in triplicate. “In theory, you could build three cars, apart from the chassis,” says Günter.
Over time, a special relationship is forged with the DTM drivers, especially when they have their changing room in Günter’s truck. “Because of this, I see more of them on a personal level,” says Günter. “By and large, relationships with drivers are really good. When we’re testing, we generally have more to do with them because they have more time on their hands. It’s harder on the race weekends, because that’s when the job comes first.”