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‘Salut everyone, my name is Céline Grasland the Hospitality Manager at WRC Team MINI Portugal, and I’m proud to be your guide through the team’s adventures at Rallye de France, the upcoming round of the 2012 FIA World Rally Championship.

‘Being French – I’m from Bretagne the north-western part of the country – Rallye de France is quite special to me so I’m really happy to be updating you on our progress during the event and seeing what we can achieve on French soil. I’m sure Rallye de France will represent a completely new challenge for the team. It is only the second full-Tarmac event of the season and the third event with Atko but everyone seems positive and I’m confident we’ll do a great job.

‘For the catering staff, preparations for an event begin well in advance. We start by working out the menus for the week as we need to provide something different but equally tasty every single day! After that we place orders at our suppliers – we generally bring everything from France because we’re sure of the quality of the products ;-). It’s also way more practical than shopping on site, because we can’t always find everything we need in every country.

‘The logistical part of the job takes more or less a week and as soon as we have received the products we load our truck and off we go. We drive to all the European events and I’m quite often the ‘chauffeur’ while the boys sleep. 😉 I even drove all 1500km to Finland by myself – boy was that a journey to remember!

‘We start to feed the team on Tuesday and we serve all meals until lunchtime Sunday, totalling eleven meals. The team isn’t huge, but even so we work with very large quantities. To give you some idea, on a rally week we cut about 60 kilos of potatoes, 25 kilos of tomatoes and use 12 kilos of fillet steak – which everyone in team enjoys very much, especially Paulo and our engineer Tomo! 😉

‘WRC Team MINI Portugal is a multi-cultural team so it’s not always easy to meet everybody’s tastes, but with the majority of team members being Italian, pasta and espresso are products we use a lot of. We cook about 30 kilos of pasta per week and get through around 10 kilos of coffee – the boys (and girls!) love to take a break with a nice coffee and (lots of) biscuits.

‘Being a girl working a male-dominated environment isn’t always easy, but I have a very strong personality and – just occasionally – a bad temper as well so it’s not easy for men to work with me either. 😉 My job is very physical, the hours are very long and I spend most of my day moving heavy stuff, standing up or cooking so I really don’t need the gym when I get back home – my job is the only sport I need to do!

‘It’s for sure a hard job but it’s my passion, I couldn’t do anything else. The good relationships I’ve created with the other team members make me forget how tough the job is – after all we’re a MINI Family. 😉

‘When I’m not on rallies my life is still pretty busy as I’m working on on other projects with the company I work for . This summer we covered the Tour de France where we followed the race and had to change cooking location every day. In winter we do the Trophée Andros – the French ice racing championship – where this season a certain Alain Prost won his third title! It’s always nice to see French drivers at the top of international motor sport – and there’s quite a few at the moment… 🙂 We also worked on the European rounds of the FIA World Touring Car Championship and cater for television companies in the Ligue 1 – the first division of the French football Championship.

‘To be honest the rally world is my favourite, I’ve been working in the WRC for three and a half years now and it has slowly became my passion. When you ‘taste’ rallying is difficult not to fall in love with it! I started in this environment by chance coming from something completely different. I studied hotel management for six years and then I worked in casinos for a few years as a ‘croupier’ but now that I’ve landed in the world of rallying I don’t want to work on anything else.

‘The team is heading to Rallye de France now for a two day test to prepare for the event and for a big assault next weekend. I’ll be back during the rally week with more updates from the WRC Team MINI Portugal Service Area in Strasbourg.

‘Sportivement, Céline

‘PS: Just to tie you over until the action starts next week, here’s what I’ve been glued to recently on You Tube – an awesome video of Colin Clark’s ridealong with Atko in GB. Enjoy.’

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