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Car built by DMU engineer students notches-up best ever placing at home of F1

Their car was named after Disney icon Elsa – and they Let It Go like the clappers at the home of British motorsport.

A dedicated team of revheads from De Montfort University Leicester notched up DMU’s highest-ever placing at the international Formula Student showdown at Silverstone.

But the DMU Racing squad were left to rue what might have been when a gaffe with the gas meant they ran out of fuel in the closing laps of an endurance trial – just when they were leading the pack. 

FORMULA STUDENT main

The annual Institution of Mechanical Engineers contest challenges students to design, build and race a single-seater racing car over one year.

DMU entered two teams to this year’s tournament – a petrol car and an electric one too. And in a field of 130 teams, from universities across the world, the petrol team finished a hugely creditable 44th - an eight place improvement on last year’s ranking.

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“Overall, we were happy,” said Brad Ward, a Mechanical Engineering student currently on a year’s placement with DMU Racing.

“This was the first time a DMU car has competed in all the events in the competition. But we know we could have done better.

“It’s a fast car. And it would have been faster too, if the conditions hadn’t been so wet.”

The car screamed from 0-60 in just 4.2 seconds – although Brad and the team believe it’s capable of 3.4  seconds  on a dry surface.

But calamity struck 18 laps into a 22-lap endurance trial at the Northamptonshire circuit, when Elsa froze.

“We got caught up in the heat of the moment and didn’t check the fuel line,” said Brad. “We were the fastest car at that point. That’s life though. It’s just one of those things.

“We do this to learn. We take a £20,000 car to a competition where some teams spend up to a quarter of million pounds. We just can’t compete with any team that has that kind of budget.

“I’ll be kicking myself for days about the fuel but it’s still our most successful year. 

“I’m already starting on plans for next year – and we’ll make sure that car stays running all the way round.”

The DMU electric team, who made their Formula Student debut in a category that judges design, costs and business acumen but not actual performance on a track, finished in 19th position out of 26 entries.  

They were led by Dr Dean Hamilton, a VC2020 lecturer in the Engineering department at DMU, who has worked with Toyota, Prodrive, Jaguar Land Rover and F1 giants McLaren.

“For us this was the beginning of a steep learning curve,” he said. “It’s a complex competition and it’s going to take a while to become familiar with the rules and competition process, which includes a Dragon's Den style business role-play.

“We’ll be back next year – and we’ll be competing with our full electric race car, alongside the DMU petrol car.” 

Posted on: Friday 04 August 2017

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