Student engineers race to victory at Silverstone

A team of engineering students from the University of Bath has come first in the UK, in the annual international Student Formula competition held at Silverstone (17-19 July).

Their achievement marks a hat trick for the University, winning best UK team for the third year running.

The team of 15 mechanical engineering and electronic engineering students were competing in the largest student racing event worldwide. They came fourth overall, from a field of 80, mostly German competitors, competing in heavy rain and appalling driving conditions.

The students designed the prototype for the car in the third year of their degree course and began its manufacture in their final year, mostly in their spare time.

Fabian Pillay, the 23 year old Project Leader on the student team, who drove the car in two of the four races said: "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.

"The weather was appalling and a couple of the cars blew their engines so there was oil everywhere and the surface was like a skating rink. It was very, very nerve-racking.

"I don't think there is a single person in the team who wouldn't rank our achievement up there with their own greatest ever achievement. When the results were in and Bath had once again managed the best UK accolade and matched our best ever finished we couldn't believe it. We were totally ecstatic!"

Project leader Fabian Pillay (first left back row) and the Bath Forumula Student Team with their winning car TBR09

Project leader Fabian Pillay (first left back row) and the Bath Formula Student Team with their winning car TBR09

Dr Kevin Robinson, lecturer in the Department of Mechanical Engineering and one of two academic supervisors to the Formula Student team said: "The students have done fantastically well. They built their car on a budget totalling just £25,000 and were competing against much larger highly professional international teams with ten times that budget.  

"To compete at this level at Silverstone takes huge commitment and their achievement is testament to their ability, hard work and determination."

"A number of Bath students who have competed in previous years now work for Formula 1 race teams so it really is fantastic experience for a graduate engineer."

The car was made from a modified motorcycle engine but all other components were designed, made and assembled by the team. It weighs 209 kilos and can accelerate from 0-60mph in three seconds.

The team also had to demonstrate their business skills in engineering the car, including controlling costs, dealing with supplier relations, marketing and seeking sponsorship to fund the costs of the build.

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