George Simmons, captain of the Oxford Brookes University motor racing team, reflects on their success in the 2014 Formula Student UK competition
FORMULA Student is Europe’s most established educational motorsport competition, organised by The Institution of Mechanical Engineers.
Student teams from across the globe are asked to develop and create a prototype vehicle that must be low in cost, easy to maintain, and reliable, as well as being quick on the track.
With high profile engineers and industry leaders judging, we didn’t want to leave anything to chance. Our philosophy from the start was to design and manufacture a car using an ‘evolution rather than revolution’ ethos.
Over the course of the year we put the car through 300,000 miles of testing to iron out any issues, and develop the car’s setup for our team of drivers.
After arriving at Silverstone, the morning’s static events ran smoothly, with the team successfully defending the car’s manufacturing costs to a panel of industry experts. We also had to get through a tricky ‘Dragon’s Den’ style business event as well.
By the end of the day we had managed to climb to eighth place overall.
We also had to present the car to the design judges, with all elements of the vehicle coming under some serious scrutiny.
We were successful, however, and managed to secure ourselves a place in the ‘design finals’ for the top six teams in the competition.
The final for the design competition was completely different to what we were used to, with just four team members allowed in the room having to answer some tough questions.
The judges were looking for a deeper understanding of the car and trying to test our knowledge of the systems we’d used.
We discovered later that day the judges had loved the spirit of the car and team and had given us first place in the design competition – we were the first UK team ever to win.
Finally with the static events completed it was time to lay down some rubber, with the Acceleration event and then the Skid-Pad event, designed to test the manoeuvrability of the cars out on the track.
We were able to pull ahead through these events, and with just the sprint and endurance events left to go we were in contention for a top ten finish, and were neck and neck with Bath University team for the number one UK spot.
After a successful sprint we were into the all-important Endurance event, a lengthy 22 kilometre race. During the first driver’s stint the team were looking good, setting the lap record a number of times during the race and successfully fending off the car from Bath.
With the mid-point driver change due, the whole team held their breath as we waited for the car to burst back into life.
Thankfully it did, and we were able to rejoin the race for the final leg.
With just three laps to go all seemed ok, until suddenly our driver became unable to shift down through the gears, causing him to be stuck in third gear for the remaining race.
He had to nurse the car home at a slowed pace, but luckily he managed to bring us across the finishing line, ensuring the OBR team took sixth place overall, claiming back the number one UK team crown once again, for a record fifth time.
- For more information on the Oxford Brookes Racing team, see obr.brookes.ac.uk
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