Friday, 21 August 2009

Team Bath Roar Ahead


A team of engineering students from the University of Bath came first in the annual international ImechE Formula Student competition, held at Silverstone earlier this summer. Team Bath Racing finished sixth and fourth at previous events in 2007/08, ahead of other participating British teams. Another impressive fourth place at the competition held on the 17 – 19 July, capped a hat-trick of UK victories for these innovative players.

The aim of the Formula Student event is to promote careers in engineering by challenging university students to design, build and develop their own single seater racing car. Team Baths car was powered by a modified motorcycle engine, capable of reaching 60mph in three seconds. All other components of the car were designed, made and assembled by the team itself. Fifteen mechanical and electronic engineering students from Bath University worked on the car, competing against a field of competitors from around the world.
Students operate under a hypothetical client brief that they have to produce a prototype racer for a large manufacturing firm, and therefore must learn to work round the clock, under extreme pressure and adhere to tight deadlines. Participating students will gain the experience, skills and professionalisms, essential for a successful career in motorsport.

This year’s Formula Student competition started slowly for Team Bath as they underperformed in the skidpan and acceleration events. Nevertheless, morale was bolstered as the team went on to achieve second place in the presentation round, surpassed with an exciting win in the fuel economy event. The big test came on the endurance event, held during appalling conditions as torrential rain drenched the Silverstone circuit. To make matters worse, a car belonging to a competing team blew its engine and spewed oil across the track. However, the Team Bath car excelled on the greasy circuit and led the endurance round for most of the day. Unfortunately, the weather eventually loosened up, allowing the treacherous track to dry out, permitting the remaining teams who hadn’t yet run to post quicker lap times. Despite this, and thanks to a strong performance in the fuel economy event, the team finished fourth overall, on par with their inspirational feats of 2008.

Fabian Pillay, project leader for Bath Team Racing, who drove the car in two of the four races summed up the experience: “The team has worked incredibly hard over the last 18 months and the result has made it completely worthwhile. Working up to 20 hours a day over the last two weeks leading up to the competition was mentally and physically draining but nothing when compared to being stood in the Silverstone pit lane watching your car head out for the final race.

Ross Brawn, Team Principal of Formula One Championship leaders Brawn GP, hailed the value of the Formula Student project: “If the FS cars were all pristine, perfect examples it would be a boring competition, which makes Formula 1 a little bit sterile. Seeing these sorts of things at FS is quite exciting.’’

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