Student engineers at the University of Sussex are hoping their new, lightweight racing car will propel them into the UK’s top five at the world’s largest student motorsport event at Silverstone this coming July.
Unveiled last week, the car – designed and built entirely by Sussex students taking part in the global Formula Student competition – is much lighter than in previous years. By replacing heavy steel with innovative ‘honeycomb’ aluminium, the Sussex Racing team has shaved a whopping 20 per cent off the weight of the chassis alone. They have also opted for smaller 10inch wheels, bringing the total weight of the car down to around 220kg.
The group hope these major design changes will see them beat last year’s Sussex Racing team, who achieved the University’s highest-ever finish of 8th in the UK and 28th in the world.
Speaking to Latest TV ahead of the launch event, which took place in the Attenborough Centre Creativity Zone on the University’s campus, the 2016 team’s chief engineer, Tom Westwood, said: “We’re feeling pretty confident this year. We’re aiming for the top 20 globally and we’re aiming for the top five in the UK.
“Our current progress is certainly hinting at that – we’ve made quite a few innovations this year that they’ve not used in previous years and that will help us at the event.”
More than 100 students, faculty, family members, industry figures and VIPs turned up to get the first look at the new car, which is the culmination of months of work by the team of student engineers whilst also leaving their good luck messages on a full size mock chassis.
The team’s project supervisor, Dick Atkins of the Institution of Mechanical Engineers (IMechE), welcomed the guests. He said: “This is a very special moment in the lives of these students and it is a terrific advertisement for them and for the University.”
The Vice-Chancellor, Professor Michael Farthing, has been an avid supporter of the project for many years. He said: “This is one of the highlights of our year. These are exceptional people who do an amazing task in a very short space of time. This project takes people outside the classroom and gets them to do something that is real.”
This year Professor Farthing joined the students for driver training at a go-kart track, Q-Leisure, just north of Brighton. Q-Leisure is just one of the many generous sponsors and patrons who have provided the team with money, discounts, goods and expertise. Others include Mobil 1 – the chief sponsor – and Santander. A full list of sponsors can be found on the team’s website.
Santander joined the students in presenting a cheque for £1,215 to Help for Heroes, the team’s chosen charity. The students raised £715, with Santander adding £500.
Also supporting the team at the launch event was Richard Noble, who broke the land-speed record in 1983 and plans to do so again this year in a car that aims to top 1,000mph. He has been a mentor to the students for many years.
The Formula Student competition takes place on 14-17 July at Silverstone race track, just days after the circuit hosts the British Grand Prix – and we will give you the full run down of how the team get on.
Good luck all!
(images by claire potter)