Students left in dust after racing car sponsor’s U-turn

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A group of ten Lancaster engineering students are custom-building a one-seater racing car to allow them to compete with over 100 other universities from 21 countries in the Formula Student competition.

The car should hopefully be completed by next Easter, with a provisional date for the race weekend being set as 15-18 July 2010 at Silverstone racetrack near Northampton.

For the last two years UPP, the company responsible for most of the building work and maintenance across campus, has provided two thirds of the funding for the team, which relies on sponsorship from outside companies to help pay for the car. However, this year the deal with the company ended, and the team is now struggling with a budget of just over £5,000.

The team is now looking for another company willing to provide support for the project, with the incentive that they can offer significant exposure in a very competitive engineering area. The Silverstone race day has had the likes of Damon Hill and Ross Brawn opening the event in the past, and is world renowned.

In previous years the car has won the award for lowest fuel consumption, something which team member Alex Goldman, who is responsible for various electrical aspects of the car including the braking system, attributes to its “light and efficient design.” The car can manage 0 to 60 mph in 2.9 seconds. However, the competition is not all about speed, with areas such as cost, design and presentation all playing a part in the final result.

Lancaster has been competing for 11 of the contest’s 12 year history, and has one of the smallest teams. Last year’s victors from Universität Stuttgart had around 50 members, a budget exceeding £100,000 and a sponsorship deal from Audi. The contest itself is the largest in Europe, and is second only in the world to the USA’s version.

Due to a technical fault that ruled the car out of two of the eight events, last year’s result was disappointing for the team, placing them 49th out of 82 competitors. The best placing by the University so far has been eighth.

“We’re aiming for top 20 if not higher this year,” said Goldman, adding “Although we are the underdogs we can punch above our weight due to the dedication and expertise of the group.”

Despite the small setbacks, Goldman is confident about the team’s ability: “I think the Lancaster Team can achieve its ambitious goals and effectively implement the cutting edge technology that it has built on from previous years. There is no reason why we can’t do very well in this year’s competition.”

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