Beating the clock, around the world, for Australian motorsports event

When a British manufacturer was set the seemingly impossible task of designing, manufacturing and delivering a new 210 metre seating canopy for Australia’s largest domestic ticketed motorsports event on a very tight deadline, they turned to GAC Pindar for the transport solution.

Every year since 1999 – minus the Covid years – the city of Adelaide has hosted the Adelaide 500 which is known as the world’s best touring car event, with annual attendance reaching well over 260,000 fans in recent years. The 2023 edition was also the Repco Supercar Championship season finale, so it was expected to attract even bigger crowds.

As the event was in late November, organisers needed to protect the fans from the extremes of Australian weather. For that, they asked Mar-Key Group, based in Christchurch, Dorset, which creates custom-made structures for event organisers and commercial clients, to create a custom-made canopy.

Their Design Draughtsman, Paul Childs, Mar-Key, recalls the initial approach: “When the job came in the door, the brief was to design, build and ship a grandstand canopy but there was a catch – we had to do it all in less than two months! It was a real challenge for the design team – there was no time for a re-design. It came down to the wire, with the last components still being put together as the last container was being loaded.”

Getting the canopy from the UK to Australia by sea would take eight weeks, and it had to be on site at least two weeks ahead of the event to allow time for assembly.

The pressure was on and that’s where GAC Pindar, the GAC Group’s marine leisure, sports and event logistics division, came in.

“Sporting events operate with tight schedules which demand a unique freight forwarding skillset,” says Martin Molloy, Head of GAC Pindar. “Our operations team are creative logistics, problem-solving and contingency-planning experts. They understand the intricacies of global freight and the external factors that can impact carrier schedules.”

For Mar-Key, the GAC Pindar team looked at the shortest transit time and matched that with where they could source the containers needed to transport the canopy, with a contingency plan to ensure all its components met the deadline. In the end, that meant sending the shipment in five 40ft open top containers on two routes.

“GAC Pindar’s technical support, experience, and logistics, transportation and customs expertise were instrumental to the successful delivery of our seating canopy to Adelaide,” says Paul Shelley, Mar-Key’s COO.

With a reported output of £224 billion (US$284 billion) in 2023, the UK manufacturing industry is on the up and Mar-Key Group is proving to be part of that success story. It is the eighth largest in global manufacturing rankings, according to Make UK, with the industry making up 49% of all UK exports. British manufacturers are reliant on their freight forwarders to ensure customer deadlines are met.

Shelley adds: “Despite the challenges and timelines associated with shipping from the UK to Australia, combined with the extremely tight timelines of the project itself, GAC Pindar enabled us to deliver to our client on time.”

GAC Pindar meets demanding event logistics schedule for Mar-Key Group